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 DHS News March 2014     

DHS Helps ACTION-Housing Preserve Needed Space  

A significant housing development initiated by the Department of Human Services and completed by a longtime partner in providing shelter for the homeless has opened in McKeesport. The McKeesport Downtown Housing development contains 80 single room occupancy units, half of which are for individuals experiencing homelessness. Those units allow eligible residents to have their own room with a door that locks, as opposed to sharing space.

“There are not too many of those,” said Chuck Keenan, Administrator for the Bureau of Homeless Services. “Typically people will have a roommate or end up paying unaffordable rent in a one-bedroom or studio apartment.”

Besides providing this type of housing sorely needed in the mix available in the county for low-income or potentially homeless people, McKeesport Downtown Housing also provides shelter beds and bridge housing.

Formerly the McKeesport YMCA building, the structure at 519 Sinclair St. is now owned by ACTION-Housing Inc., which took up DHS’s request to preserve the housing. The YMCA, which merged with Metropolitan YMCA, originally planned to close the building in 2010.

Nearly $11 million in renovation and associated project costs, financed through low-income housing tax credits issued by the Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency, transformed the building. The work, completed by Repal Construction, Thoughtful Balance and Iams Consulting, utilized “Passive House” standards to make the building capable of reducing energy costs by 75 percent. The building is one of the first multifamily developments in the country to use the standards.

Other partners in the project were PNC Bank, the R.K. Mellon Foundation and the Pittsburgh Foundation. DHS applied for and received $230,400 yearly for 10 years from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in rent subsidies for the SRO units.

The project also helped maintain a landmark structure in McKeesport.  Built in 1922, the YMCA building is located in the heart of the city.


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