Hosanna House

Multiple Goals, Multiple Projects Hosanna House Addresses Blight The Vacant Property Recovery Program (VPRP) helps to provide viable reuses for

Multiple Goals, Multiple Projects


The Vacant Property Recovery Program (VPRP) helps to provide viable reuses for abandoned houses and lots. In Wilkinsburg, one organization is planning new uses for problem properties in order to create an impact in a defined area and encourage other stakeholders.

“Our number one priority in promoting use of the VPRP is to address blight,” says Leon Haynes, executive director of Hosanna House, a nonprofit that provides critical health and human services to more than 35,000 Wilkinsburg residents each year.   “Additionally and equally important is to create a decent and respectable and safe environment for children and families to live and play as well as encourage other leaders and stakeholders to get involved in the transitioning of our community.”

The organization is working to consider new uses for multiple sites, all of which have been identified as problems by the municipality. It is soliciting the help of individuals, businesses, churches and other stakeholders to plan the new uses. Several abandoned houses may be rehabbed or taken down  and reused as shared green spaces.

“Addressing blight is critical because blight says an area is unsafe and economically deprived,” says Haynes. “We can help renew this one portion of the community by identifying projects and involving others and as a result, create a livable community that is economically stable.”


Hosanna House has years of experience to back its work in the area. The organization renovated an abandoned, 125,000-square-foot former school over 11 years to serve as the vibrant center it is today. Hosanna House has boarded up individual problem properties and painted exteriors as needed. And the group successfully advocated for taking down an abandoned house and created a playground in the new space.

Among its current programs, Hosanna House tackles select home repairs for area seniors in response to municipal and community requests. This initiative not only directly assists the individual homeowners but helps to avoid blight from taking hold in new areas.

“We are helping to stabilize the neighborhood,” Haynes says of Hosanna House’s many roles in past and present projects. “Hosanna House serves as a captain/leader, in effect. We are encouraging others to get involved here and throughout Wilkinsburg. Together we will renew our community.”