The Allegheny County Housing Authority sold five homes in Penn Hills and three lots in Duquesne to the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity.
Frank Aggazio, Executive Director of the Allegheny County Housing Authority, said the partnership is a way to offer homeownership to low-income county residents who no longer need housing assistance. The county sold the five dilapidated properties and lots for $218,000.
Howard Slaughter, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh Executive Director, said the homes are in better shape than what they usually encounter. The program has families contribute 350 hours of renovation and maintenance work on the house in lieu of a large down payment. It’s what Slaughter calls “sweat equity.”
“When you work on your home and it’s part of you, you’re less likely to walk away from the home in situations that may be difficult down the road,” he said. “In 30 years, we’ve had one foreclosure.”
In return for that work and a $950 down-payment, homebuyers receive a 30-year zero percent interest fixed mortgage. Slaughter said he expects the home renovations to be completed by the end of the year.
Slaughter said the nationwide drop in the homeownership rate – the lowest it’s been in 50 years – is correlated to low-income families having to rent rather than buy. Families who live in Habitat homes also receive pre- and post-financial education counseling.
Both Aggazio and Slaughter said they plan to continue the program in the future and are looking at properties in other municipalities.