New Housing Development Aims To Retain East End's Low-Income Residents

Jul 19, 2016

Local elected officials gathered in Bloomfield on Monday to celebrate the opening of the Penn Mathilda Apartments, a new affordable housing development meant to keep low-income residents in the East End, especially as gentrification pushes up rent payments.

More than half of the 39 low-cost units are reserved for veterans.

Located adjacent to the Allegheny Cemetery, the apartments began accepting tenants in April, according to the local nonprofit ACTION-Housing.

Officials said the new building has already accepted seven residents who’d been evicted from the outgoing Penn Plaza building in East Liberty.

“As we grow again and we have all this vitality and vibrancy coming in, we want to keep people in their homes," said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. "We want to keep people in the neighborhoods they want to be.”

City Councilwoman Deb Gross, who represents Bloomfield, said she’d like to build more affordable housing developments in the neighborhood to ensure that it remains a mixed income area in the wake of gentrification.

“We feel pressured to do it as quickly as possible, because we’re trying to compete with the private market," Gross said. "The land values are going up, the rents are going up so quickly, so high it’s actually hard to acquire the properties to build these units.”

The $11 million Penn Mathilda project was funded by tax credits, private loans and grants.