Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, a Community on the Rise

Oct 3, 2023

On August 26th, the Lincoln Lemington Collaborative (the Collaborative), united with Neighborhood Allies, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh (RTP), WAVE, Omicelo Construction Group, and other partners, held its first Community & Housing Resource Fair at Catalyst Academy (the former Lemington School). 

The event was a monumental success with well over 20 vendors/service providers participating and innumerable residents coming together to have an enjoyable time and learn about the housing resources that are available throughout the community. The resource fair was supported in part by a $75,000 RISE HIGH Grant Partnership Program award provided by Neighborhood Allies to RTP and the Collaborative in July of 2022 for the Healthy Housing Repairs for Lincoln Homeowners initiative.  

About Lincoln: A community’s strengths, assets, and challenges:  

With a population of approximately 5,000, Lincoln-Lemington serves as a gateway neighborhood into the city from the east via Allegheny River Boulevard and shares borders with Homewood, Larimer, Highland Park, Fox Chapel, and Penn Hills. It is generally subdivided into two parts, areas affectionately known by residents as “Upper Lincoln” and “Lower Lincoln.” The neighborhood has some of the highest elevations in Pittsburgh and boasts of remarkable assets such as the Brilliant Viaduct, Paulson Park, Paulson Recreation Center (the old Lincoln Pumping Station), Chadwick Park, and the National Negro Opera House, just to name a few. A little-known fact is that Lincoln is the only city neighborhood to span across the Allegheny River and is actually home to the Waterworks mall and St. Margaret Hospital that most people mistakenly assume is in Fox Chapel or Aspinwall.  

Another community asset, Belmar Gardens, is the country’s first housing cooperative built with an FHA-insured mortgage. It was developed out of a need for middle-income African Americans to own their own homes, as they were not welcome in middle-income white neighborhoods in the 1950’s. Home to 118 units on 17 acres, Belmar Gardens opened in 1954 and is currently owned, operated and maintained by the shareholders.  

On a downside, Lincoln-Lemington has one of Pittsburgh’s highest concentrations of vacant and distressed properties. The deteriorating condition of housing units and continued disinvestment is a growing concern, especially as homeowners age and low-income homeowners find themselves unable to afford the maintenance required to upkeep their homes. The historic housing stock presents many dangers – from lead-based paint, radon, mold, and carbon monoxide poisoning to structural and fall hazards – which can not only affect homeowners’ socioeconomic health, but also the physical and mental health of their families. These issues make it incredibly difficult for families to stay healthy, stay in their homes, and build intergenerational wealth.  

A Solutions Orientation: 

To address such challenges, the Collaborative, alongside the City Planning Department, residents, and other key stakeholders, developed the Lincoln-Lemington Visioning Plan that was officially released in February of 2022. The community’s vision is for Lincoln to be a “welcoming, family friendly neighborhood that boasts mixed-income housing, a growing local business community, amenities, safe parks and recreation, and dependable public transportation“.  

One of the top priorities stated in the Plan is to “build the civic capacity and infrastructure of the Collaborative to serve as a central clearinghouse to help disseminate information to residents related to available programs.” 

 Shortly after the Visioning Plan was released, our core partnership team began to meet and produced the Healthy Housing Repairs initiative that aims to: 

  • Formalize the partnership between the Collaborative, RTP, Neighborhood Allies, WAVE, and others to activate the Visioning Plan 
  • Increase the membership of the Collaborative and expand their organizational capacity to guide the future redevelopment of their neighborhood
  • Help stabilize at least 22 homes in in the neighborhood and 
  • Draw positive attention and additional resources into the community  

Through this partnership, RTP offers free healthy housing repairs and wraparound services are provided by WAVE to help protect homeownership and foster generational wealth. With essential home repairs, we deter displacement of longtime homeowners and allow families to realize the full value of their home. 

If the achievement of the Housing Fair is an indication of future success, wonderful things are on the way for the Lincoln-Lemingtion community. For additional information, feel free to reach out to one or more of our core partnership team members: 

  • The Collaborative is a registered community organization with the intent to “revitalize and increase peace” in their neighborhood. Sandra El Glass, 
  • RTP assists low-income homeowners with the maintenance and care of their homes, inspired by the desire to improve living conditions and daily quality of life for homeowners in need. Rebecca Aguilar-Francis,  
  • WAVE- is an approved Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and an HUD Housing Counseling Agency that serves low to moderate income (LMI) families. WAVE creates housing and economic stability for individuals through personal empowerment, life skills improvement, problem solving and wealth building. Charlise Smith, Executive Director, 
  • Omicelo Construction Group– is a mission-driven private equity firm. mission is to transform communities with the right mix of investments and resources. Kathleen Feeney,
  • Neighborhood Allies– our mission is to engage Pittsburgh area residents and organizations with innovative tools that expand opportunity for transformative community change. Shad Henderson,

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA