“This is not a day for celebration, but an example of why we need better protections for low income tenants in our city,” Mayor Peduto said.
“There was a lot of pain and uncertainty faced by longtime residents, and the City held the private owners of the site accountable so that instead of mass evictions, we were able to ensure everyone received a new home. We met with tenants and their advocates throughout the last year and a half, have kept lines of communication open, and we will continue to get through the rough times together as we work toward a more equitable development strategy for our city.”
Developers announced without notice in the summer of 2015 that they were evicting some 200 residents from two buildings at Pennley Park to make way for demolition and re-purposing of the site. The Mayor’s Office worked with all stakeholders to reach a compromise: 100 residents in one building would be found new homes by the end of March 2016, and another 100 would be found new homes by March 31, 2017, with financial support from the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the developers.
The matter is just one part of the work the Mayor has been doing to protect residents faced with losing their homes citywide. Last month the Mayor issued a series of Executive Orders to develop a comprehensive affordable housing strategy for the city, which includes changes in City and state rules to require landlords to treat tenants more equitably.
At Pennley Park specifically, the URA paid $300,00 for relocation services performed by Neighborhood Allies, and the private developers paid for moving costs.
At the Mayor’s request several other private developers active in the East Liberty area contributed almost $50,000 to help rehabilitate apartment units owned by East Liberty Development Incorporated (ELDI) at Mellon’s Orchard to house Pennley Park tenants.
As of today there were seven Pennley Park tenants still in their homes, but all have replacement housing secured, as well as moving assistance provided by Neighborhood Allies and volunteers. All are expected to be moved by tomorrow’sdeadline.
In the meantime the City has continued to challenge Pennley Park South’s development of the site on multiple fronts.
In January the City’s Planning Commission rejected the redevelopment plans in part due to a lack of engagement with the East Liberty community.
Last month the Peduto Administration filed suit to hold the Pennley Park South developers accountable for promises it made to the City in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2015 regarding commitments made to the residents there.
Finally, the Mayor’s Call to Action includes calls for state officials to work with the City to provide new protections to tenants in any site constructed with the assistance of state funding. Those protections, at a minimum, would include requirements for just cause evictions, relocation support, and advance notification of upcoming evictions.