Avenues of Hope receives over $ 600,000 for black neighborhood revitalization

From Meg St-Esprit

Pittsburgh’s Avenues of Hope initiative to revitalize business districts in historically black communities received a financial boost from the state to boost projects across the city.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority, along with the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation, has received $ 654,310 in grants through the Keystone Community Program.

US $ 150,000 was made available to upgrade the facades of buildings in select business districts. Small businesses receive appropriate grants to support necessary repairs to shop windows. The Homeowner Accessibility Program for Independence is receiving $ 300,000 to help homeowners upgrade their homes. The program is currently accepting applications.

In the Hill District, $ 204,310 will be used to build two row houses on Rose Street. The three bedroom units are made available to families at or below 80% of the median income of the area. As part of the URA revitalization project Center Avenue Corridor, four market-driven units are also being built.

In October 2020 the URA has the Avenues of hope Community revitalization project that provides financial assistance, affordable housing construction, and facade renovation to business owners in the following areas: Center Avenue, Chartiers Avenue, Homewood Avenue, Irvine Street (2nd Avenue), Larimer Avenue, Perrysville Avenue, and Warrington Avenue.

“Avenues of Hope is more than a single program or project. It is an initiative that helps us consciously prioritize economic inclusion and community development throughout our work, ”says Diamonte Walker, URA Deputy Executive Director. “If we want to ensure that Pittsburgh is the most livable city for all, we need to support these anchor corridors and the surrounding neighborhoods by investing in existing small businesses and residents to ensure black wealth creation and cultural preservation.”

Since its inception, Avenues of Hope has helped launch multiple businesses and create affordable housing units in specific development areas, including:

– The CARES CommuniTEA Café in the Hill District, which provides a community room and vocational training for youth in the community.

– In Homewood South that Givner building will accommodate two retail spaces and six affordable rental units. Four of these units will be available to tenants earning 50% of the median income of the area or less, and two units will be marketed at 80% of the median income of the area.

– In the hill district, Big toms Barber Shop has received support for the move and expansion of the former Hamms Barber Shop site, which is an iconic building in the neighborhood.

Avenues of Hope’s stated goal is to create centers for black art and culture and improve community health through education, medical care, elderly care, support services and recreation. Funding from the state grant will further these goals.

In total, Governor Tom Wolf announced that $ 5 million would be allocated to community projects across Pennsylvania.

“We are grateful to Governor Wolf and our partners in the state for this investment in building equity in our communities. This funding will support programs and resources that create opportunities for inclusive, community-centered development so that our neighbors and neighborhoods can realize their vision for the future, ”Mayor William Peduto said in a statement.

the Avenues of Hope website is pursuing other projects, including a proposal from Sankofa Group for the Hill District’s Center Avenue corridor, which includes the construction of 45,000 square feet, three-story commercial space and a $ 9 million parking lot. The first floor will house Smoketown Culinary in Sankofa Square, which will serve as a launching pad for local entrepreneurs in the food industry. The additional floors of the development are available as office space.

Meg St-Esprit is a freelance journalist based in Bellevue. Find her on Twitter or on her website.

Avenues of HopeNeighbourhood DevelopmentPittsburgh Housing Development CorporationURAUrban Redevelopment Authority

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