A small army of Larimer residents and city officials went on the offensive Thursday in an effort to convince the federal government that Pittsburgh is worthy of a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I want to win this,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who met with a small group of HUD officials early Thursday before turning the effort over to his representatives.
“It would not only bring $30 million into Pittsburgh but (the redevelopment of Larimer) would become a national model of sustainable housing development,” Peduto said.
Peduto said part of the plan would include hiring local residents to do some of the work, which Peduto thinks would create a double benefit to the neighborhood. He also sees the impact stretching beyond the immediate neighborhood.
“It will extend what we have done over the past 20 years in East Liberty across and past Bakery Square into the neighborhood of Larimer and sitting right behind that is 350 houses for sale that we can then start to extend home ownership opportunities,” said Peduto.
The Mayor’s office has been working on the grant application since taking office. Peduto said he has made two visits to the HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan’s office since taking office.
“There were nearly 50 cities to apply for this grant,” said Peduto, who admits he does not know when HUD will make a final decision. It is not even clear at this time how many grants will be awarded.
“What we are doing is stabilizing both affordable and market rate housing in a way that will bring back a neighborhood,” he said.
The effort stems from the 2010 Larimer Vision Plan, which was supported by several agencies and private entities including the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Authority of Pittsburgh, The Community Design Center of Pittsburgh and the Michael Baker Corporation.
Among the ideas put forward is the creating of more green space that is hoped to not only improve the quality of life for residents but also reduce some of the storm water runoff, which contributes to the region’s combined sewer overflow concerns.