Lena Andrews is an affordable housing developer with ACTION-Housing. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

A vacant dilapidated garage stood at the entrance to the Penn Avenue Arts District in Bloomfield. Over the years, this building had served a number of purposes; it was a garage, a metal-working studio, and most recently, storage for artists. It had been vacant for years, stuck in the limbo of foreclosure and tax delinquency. As the neighborhood changed rapidly, ACTION-Housing found a way to transform the building.

In an effort to explain what is involved to develop a building with affordable housing units in Pittsburgh, consider the journey of the Penn Mathilda Apartments — a vibrant new building with 39 units of affordable housing and 6,000 square feet of office space for arts organizations.

For ACTION-Housing, the first step in creating new housing that is affordable to low-income households is finding a site that meets our core requirements. It has to be big enough to create at least 30 units of housing and accessible to public transportation, bike lanes and quality sidewalks. Ideally, it’s easy to get to a grocery store, schools, a pharmacy, parks and job centers. Because our tenants have limited financial resources, we try to locate new housing in places where it’s easy to live without a car.



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