Welcoming Pittsburgh and URA complete National Welcoming Economies Pilot Program
January 12, 2021
The WE Pilot supports local leaders in advancing policies, programs, partnerships, and practices that include immigrants as part of their local or regional economic strategy.
Throughout the year, the WE Pilot team and other national experts provided the city and URA with more than 20 hours of direct technical assistance, access to subject area experts, hands-on coaching, and peer learning opportunities to advance the economic inclusion of immigrants and contribute to local economic development efforts that impact all residents.
"We are proud of the work that Welcoming Pittsburgh and the URA have accomplished as part of this pilot," said Mayor William Peduto. "With Welcoming Economies' support, we are continuing to realize the vision laid out by our immigrant and refugee communities in the Welcoming Pittsburgh Roadmap so that all feel welcome here and find support in successful housing and small business endeavors that make our city stronger."
In 2015, the city launched the Welcoming Pittsburgh Roadmap in partnership with 40 leaders in immigrant, refugee, and international communities and over 3,000 community members. The roadmap provides a community-defined vision and recommended action items to make Pittsburgh welcoming for all. Using the Welcoming Pittsburgh Roadmap as guidance for the WE Pilot, Welcoming Pittsburgh and the URA focused on enhancing interagency and community partnerships and increasing access to housing and small business programs.
They implemented the following:
• Prevented evictions with over 100 immigrant and refugee households through the Housing Stabilization Program
• Modified current housing program applications to capture utilization rates by the immigrant and refugee population
• Strengthened community partnerships by reporting WE Pilot initiatives and progress during Welcoming Pittsburgh's bimonthly calls with immigrant and refugee community stakeholders
• Developed and implemented a language access plan to ensure information and materials about housing resources from the Housing Opportunity Fund were translated
• Implemented a universal language access plan with 15 service providers in the Housing Stabilization Program, ensuring residents have language access from beginning to end
• Developed a URA-specific working group tasked with developing and implementing an organization wide Language Access Plan
• Collaborated and formalized working relationships between the URA and Welcoming Pittsburgh to further equitable access to housing and economic development
Small Business Initiatives
• Created goals to support diverse businesses to recover and grow during the COVID-19 pandemic
• Modified current small business program applications to capture utilization rates by the immigrant and refugee population
• Provided Recovery Loan Program assistance to 11 immigrant-owned businesses
• Granted Minority Recovery and Growth funding to four immigrant-owned businesses
• Expanded community partnerships to include organizations that provide business support such as the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center, Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh, and Financial Empowerment Centers
• Compiled a growing directory of internationally-owned businesses in the city
Welcoming Pittsburgh and the URA will continue their involvement with Welcoming America beyond the WE Pilot. Jeremy Carter, HOF program manager, and Vethina Hage, housing strategy officer, were recently named to Welcoming America's Content Advisory Board for the Welcoming Standard. The Welcoming Standard is a guiding set of principles that outlines the core of what it means for communities to be truly welcoming for immigrants, refugees, and all residents.
Welcoming Pittsburgh and the URA have formally agreed to continue their partnership beyond the WE Pilot in order to continue working toward improved housing and small business outcomes for immigrant and refugee communities. They are currently conducting a citywide survey to understand what residents need to help increase homeownership in order to design appropriate support programs.
All residents are encouraged to participate by February 1 and the survey is available on Welcoming Pittsburgh's website.