DHS News July 2013
New Housing Meets Needs in Uptown
The Mackey Lofts, a 43-unit apartment building in Uptown that contains 18 units for people with hearing or sight impairments, or mobility issues, was dedicated July 15 after work kickstarted by the Local Housing Options Task Force (LHOT).
LHOT is a diverse group of both housing and service providers who meet monthly to encourage cross-sector collaborative housing projects and plan activities for all in need of safe, affordable and/or accessible housing in Allegheny County. The task force is chaired by Chuck Keenan, Administrator in the DHS Bureau of Homeless Services. Chuck said the project began after the DHS Behavioral Task Force approached LHOT, identifying the need for housing in the deaf community.
After LHOT contacted several developers, ACTION-Housing Inc. agreed to take on the project.
The building is named after the Thomas R. Mackey Baking Co., which built it in the early 20th century. It served last as a storage facility but had been vacant before ACTION-Housing bought it in 2011. The $12.4 million project, partly funded with tax credits, took about four years to develop from the time the idea was first broached.
“We made the right choice with ACTION-Housing,” Chuck said. “They embraced the idea and ran with it.”
The building includes rooms outfitted with TTY systems. Those who meet income guidelines for assistance through the Section 8 program pay 30 percent of their income in rent. In addition, all areas in the building are “visitable”(*) by people with special needs.
“We are so pleased with how well the completed Mackey Lofts development turned out, and are glad that we have been able to help meet some of the outstanding demand for hearing, vision and mobility impaired accessible units,” said Jennifer DiNardo, Director of Real Estate Affairs for ACTION-Housing.
Other partners in the project are The Bank of New York Mellon; The National Equity Fund Inc.; Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh; The Center for Hearing and Deaf Services; and Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.
*Visit the Visitability page of the Center for an Accessible Society website for more on “visitability” and what makes a house visitable.
Photos courtesy of Jim Judkis.
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