Hill District activists who strongly pushed for a community benefits agreement when the Pittsburgh Penguins proposed to build a new arena on the hillside say they are now seeing the community investment they sought two years ago.
The Hill House Association yesterday announced that nine community organizations will receive funding this year. The funding will come from the $3 million Bank of New York Mellon agreed to contribute to the Hill District Neighborhood Partnership Program over a six-year period.
"We are very excited to announce this funding," said Evan Frazier, president and chief executive officer of Hill House.
"It is clear that all parties involved in this process understand the importance of revitalizing the Hill and have stepped up to the challenge," Mr. Frazier added during a news conference at the Hill District's Carnegie Library on Centre Avenue.
Central to the community benefits agreement was the union of public-private partnerships that committed to infusing funds into neighborhood revitalization programs in the Hill District.
The agreement is between the city of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Sports & Exhibition Authority and the One Hill Coalition, a collaboration of more than 100 neighborhood groups.
The projects to be funded include programs for financial literacy, tutoring, substance abuse, establishing green space and no-interest loans for home improvements. The funding is backed by tax credits that BNY Mellon sought from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
Jack Machek, regional director of the DCED, said that funding for renovation and quality of life improvements like what is proposed for the Hill is why the state created its Neighborhood Partnership Program: to offer private companies tax credits that they could in turn invest in needy communities.
"This program has worked very well for us. It has allowed businesses like ours to continue to be involved in the revitalization of communities like the Hill," said Rick Savido, president of the BNY Mellon Community Development Corp.
The organizations to be funded include ACORN, which runs a financial literacy program on the Hill and will receive $48,685. The Center for Family Excellence will receive $98,780 to tackle education achievement gap issues, and a scholarship program, Surface Stripe-ing & Painting will be awarded $20,000 to offer merit-based scholarships to six college-bound Hill District students.
Central Outreach Resource and Referral Center, which does case management for substance abuse and HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, will receive $54,785.
Find the Rivers! will get $80,000 to create a land use plan for a network of public green spaces, which will be incorporated into the Hill District's development master plan.
Freedom Unlimited will get $71,685 for its home preservation program, and the Hill District Federal Credit Union, which has a community lending program, will receive $23,835 to fund a staffing position for its lending program.
House of the Crossroads, which has developed a plan for integrated human services delivery in conjunction with other faith-based organizations, will receive $28,395, and the group One Vision One Life, which will expand its efforts to prevent violence, will receive $23,835.
Karamagi Rujumba can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1719.