Not only will African-Americans benefit as residents of the 45 new homes being built in Garfield, but also as part of the labor force and supplier pool contributing to construction.

DIG IT—Federal, state and local officials join their community partners at the Feb. 24 groundbreaking for 50 affordable rental properties called Garfield Glen.(Photo by J.L. Martello)

“We wanted to make sure this wasn’t just bricks and mortar, that we didn’t forget the human capital,” said Garfield Jubilee President Joanne Monroe. “Even beyond employment, there’s the pride factor, that years from now people will tell their kids, ‘I worked on that and made money.’”

The project is required to employ residents and use businesses in the development area under U.S. Housing and Urban Development Act 3 because it is being financed with low-income tax credits.

Monroe said five residents were used during the demolition process and, at a minimum, another eight will be hired during the construction phase. The project also has a Minority Business Enterprise target of 17 percent.

“We have a database of people from the community. Anyone who wants to work on this should call me at my office,” she said.

Along with Monroe, several partners in the $12 million Garfield Glen Development spoke of the project’s promise during the Feb. 24 groundbreaking ceremony on Dearborn Street. All praised the others for their cooperation.

“It’s fantastic to see the cooperation from the federal level, to the state and local levels down to the community groups who helped drive this,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said this is the kind of project he is proud to be part of.

“If you looked at this area a year ago, you’d have seen 45 blighted properties. Now, pretty soon you’ll see affordable new homes,” he said. “Projects like this show how rewarding this kind of cooperation can be. We’re investing in a community on the rise.”

The city, through the Urban Redevelopment Authority, has invested $2 million in the project, and was instrumental in assembling the 65 properties needed for the scattered-site, affordable housing project. The bulk of the funding came via the purchase of tax credits.

Brenda of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, which sold the credits for the project to Huntington Bank, said the city, the URA, the community and Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation did all the real work. Hers was the easy part.

“They did what the community wanted,” she said. “We just came in at the end. It was a no-brainer because we believe in the community and the community groups doing great work here.”

The $10 million in tax credits made it possible for private developer S&A Homes to realize the project. The homes will be rented to low-and moderate-income residents and people with disabilities. After 15 years as rentals, the homes will be available for sale. And, said Bloomfield-Garfield Executive Director Rick Swartz, there are funds set aside to help those renting the units to become homeowners.

Bloomfield-Garfield expects to begin interviewing potential tenants for the first homes in June.

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