“With 22% of Wilkinsburg’s properties currently vacant or blighted, we have joined together with community members to rebuild Wilkinsburg’s neighborhoods fairly and equitably through engagement, accountability, and borough-wide policy changes,” said Tracey Evans, WCDC Executive Director. “Grants like this one will allow us to expand those efforts in real and impactful ways.
Through programs like the Homeowner Acquisition, Repair, and Preservation (HARP) Program and Vacant Property Recovery Initiative, PHARE funds will specifically support the WCDC’s work to provide financial and/or technical support to residents for:
- much-needed home repairs;
- vacant property acquisition to encourage new homeownership and preservation of Wilkinsburg’s housing stock;
- and wills and estate planning funding to encourage existing homeowners to plan for the future of their property.
This is the third grant provided to the WCDC by PHFA since 2020, totalling $750,000 in support from the agency over the past three years. PHFA’s increasing support of the WCDC shows the effectiveness of the organization’s work and the need to continue addressing Wilkinsburg’s most pressing issues with dedicated, consistent funding to support capacity and program development.
Examples of how these funds have been used to impact the lives of Wilkinsburg residents include:
- 30 applications submitted to acquire vacant properties and/or land have been submitted within the last two years with 12 properties successfully acquired to date.
- 34 Wilkinsburg residents received grants of up to $10,000 in 2022 with 14 home repairs and/or renovations completed in the last year.
- 19 residents have reached out for free legal assistance related to wills and estate planning with 7 completed so far.
- 3 resident-driven neighborhood improvement plans have received technical assistance and funding to support phase one, with more funding planned for subsequent phases. The plans represent a concerted effort to address the vacancy and blight within these three focus areas and are a direct result of the WCDC’s Strong Neighborhoods Committee’s work and the 2022 WCDC Community Vacant Property Strategy.
Long-time Wilkinsburg resident and recipient of a HARP grant, Dawn Brookins, shares her experience.
“I have lived in my home for more than 20 years, and after so many years there were several costly repairs needed, including a new roof and steps to my driveway. Thanks to the WCDC’s program, I was able to receive a generous grant, and was connected with a local contractor from the Wilkinsburg community who was lovely to work with. It was a smooth experience, from start to finish, everything went very well. I’m grateful to the entire team that helped with the project!”