Update (12/15/22): The board of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP] approved plans to apply for a federal Choice Neighborhoods grant that would help to turn Bedford Dwellings’ affordable housing into a mixed-income community twice as large. This step allows the authority to vie for $50 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD].

“We are very excited about this resolution,” said Caster Binion, the housing authority’s executive director. “We have all worked very hard on this application. We were successful with Larimer. We feel we have a solid application.”

In 2014, HACP received a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant for housing in Larimer and East Liberty. If the housing authority receives this new grant, they will replace the 411 units of Bedford Dwellings with 832 new units, including 411 reserved for low-income households. The grant would also fund “supportive services and case management for residents over the next seven years for the community,” according to Alexis Narotsky, HACP’s development manager.

The board also allowed Binion to allocate $80 million of HACP’s funds to the Bedford Dwellings redevelopment. That allocation is possible because of HACP’s federal Moving to Work designation, which provides housing authorities with flexibility in their use of HUD funds.

During the HACP’s board meeting, JW Kim, director of planning and development for the housing authority, said they plan on submitting the Choice Neighborhoods application to HUD on Jan. 9. The deadline is Jan. 11.

Reported 12/8/22: Pittsburgh’s housing authority is one step closer to securing $50 million in federal funding to completely rebuild and transform the city’s oldest public housing development.

The deadline is Jan. 11 for the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh [HACP] to apply for federal Choice Neighborhoods program funds to completely replace the 411 units of Bedford Dwellings with more than 800 mixed-income units. To complete the application process, the Urban Redevelopment Authority's board unanimously approved plans on Thursday to enter into an option agreement to sell 80 URA properties in the targeted area to the HACP and to a private entity.

As part of the application process, HACP has to demonstrate control of the targeted site, which led to the URA option agreement with the housing authority. While the HACP is the applicant for the program, they are working with the URA and TREK Development Group, the selected building partner, to plan and — if the Choice Neighborhoods funding is awarded — complete the project.

During Thursday’s meeting, Pittsburgh City Councilman R, Daniel Lavelle, who sits on the URA board, noted that the URA wouldn’t be immediately transferring land with this move.

“We're not transferring land; we're entering into an option agreement,” Lavelle said. “We're probably about three or four years away from attempting to transfer land. Rest assured, we have lots of time to work with the community to make sure we get it right.”

Lavelle made his comment in response to Rev. Lee Walls of Amani Christian Community Development, who expressed concern about the transferring of land from the URA to the housing authority. “Upper Hill District residents have not seen any development in their part of the Hill District,” he said. Bedford Dwellings is adjacent to the Middle Hill.

Construction would take about seven years, according to JW Kim, director of planning and development for the housing authority.

Kim told the URA board that HACP plans on building new housing before demolishing the old buildings in order to reduce displacement.

The current application builds on a two-year Bedford Dwellings planning process that ended in June 2018. The federal government rejected the housing authority’s first application for Choice Neighborhoods in 2018 but Kim said this second attempt is “very strong.”

“We work as one team here in Pittsburgh to get this $50 million grant,” said Caster Binion, the housing authority’s executive director. “This is a community-government-business-foundation [effort]. We’re all together working to achieve one goal: to get the Choice grant that will transform the Hill [District].”

Eric Jankiewicz is Rtvsrece’s economic development reporter and can be reached at ericj@rtvsrece.com or on Twitter @ericjankiewicz.

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Eric Jankiewicz is a reporter focused on housing and economic development for Rtvsrece. A native New Yorker, Eric moved to Pittsburgh in 2017 and has since fallen in love with his adopted city, even...