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Neighborhood Allies’ Healthy Neighborhoods Celebration Past Awardee Highlights | 2018 Market Confidence Awardee | Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

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The holiday season is a time to celebrate and show thanks. With that in mind, in lieu of highlighting new awardees for our 5th annual Healthy Neighborhoods Celebration, we are instead sharing a special anniversary campaign to showcase the work and progress of our past awardees! Follow us on Instagram to see the highlights between now and the end of the year!

In 2018, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Pittsburgh won our Market Confidence Healthy Neighborhood Award. As an awardee, we highlighted their work building market confidence from the grassroots up through efforts such as prioritizing small MWDBE-owned businesses to maintain vacant lots, offering easy access to small business micro loans paired with technical assistance and training opportunities, and providing façade improvement grants to business corridors. They had also just recently launched their Housing Opportunity Fund at the time, which supports the development and preservation of affordable and accessible housing within the City of Pittsburgh.

We met with the URA to learn about the progress they’ve made on their continued efforts to build market confidence across our region! Here are some of the awesome updates they provided:

The Avenues of Hope Initiative

The URA, in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh and various stakeholders, recently launched the Avenues of Hope Initiative. This is essentially a people and neighborhood-focused strategy to rebuild Pittsburgh’s Black business districts. It encompasses all facets of equitable development that are needed to create healthy neighborhoods, like commercial corridor activation, small and minority-owned business support, housing investment, and community-driven development. In the initiative’s seven focus areas, the URA has lent $1,962,400 to various neighborhood projects to date.

The Neighborhood Initiatives Fund (NIF)

The Neighborhood Initiatives Fund Program assists nonprofit and community-based organizations with neighborhood-scale projects in commercial corridors that improve quality of life and maintain the neighborhood as a desirable place to live. They aim to intentionally uplift the work and projects that are already happening in Pittsburgh neighborhoods by lowering the barriers to funding and creating project visibility. Through the NIF program, the URA has awarded $1.4 million in grants to 29 community organizations and nonprofits to date.

The Housing Opportunity Fund

Since 2018, the URA has secured $5.4 million in additional resources from other public and philanthropic sources. That funding has enabled additional affordable housing units, helped homeowners to make repairs, and provided critical support to Pittsburghers facing housing crises before and during the COVID pandemic. The Housing Stabilization Program, which assists with rent, utilities and mortgage payments, helped over 1,400 households avoid eviction or other housing crises during the pandemic.

Supporting Small Businesses

Pictured is a recipient of the Minority Business Recovery and Growth Loan Fund – the Floriated Interpretation Group!

Among their many efforts to support small businesses, the URA has made significant impact through a few of their programs and supporting roles specifically:

  • Their Minority Business Recovery and Growth Loan Fund program, which provides loans up to $100,000 for minority-owned businesses that are recovering from the pandemic or looking to scale up. As of September 2021, they’ve supported 41 businesses and deployed $2,678,580 in capital through this program alone over the course of just one year!
  • The URA is a supporter of Catapult: Startup to Storefront, Catapult: Culinary, and the Catapult Kids programs through Catapult Greater Pittsburgh. Two cohorts of 15 MWBE entrepreneurs each have completed the Catapult: Startup to Storefront program, and two more are underway. Fifteen businesses are currently participating in the first Catapult Culinary program, and five youth businesses completed the Catapult Kids program in the summer, 2021.

There is so much more amazing progress that we could highlight! Be sure that you’re following the URA on their social media platforms to stay up to date with their work.

Diamonte Walker, Deputy Executive Director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, pictured with Presley Gillespie, President of Neighborhood Allies, at a PHDC walking tour in the Hill District.

We have continued to partner with the URA on several projects over the years, as well, including: partnering on the Equitable Empowerment Fund, where we provided technical assistance, professional support, and grants for small, community-based developers and businesses; teaming up during the pandemic to launch our Get Online and Grow Online Program for small businesses; and collaborating on work in Schenley Heights in the Hill District through our SHORE initiative.

“Partnerships with local, community development focused organizations like Neighborhood Allies help us to continue our work to build an equitable future for all of Pittsburgh.”

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