Housing & Buildings

Community Land Trust

Polish Hill is collaborating with adjacent neighborhoods to create recommendations on a regional approach to creating long-term affordable housing through a relatively new (to Pittsburgh) mechanism called a community land trust. This type of development allows a community land trust organization to retain ownership of land and then lease the land to a homeowner, renter or business with a legal contract that requires the property to stay affordable for future homeowners, renters or businesses.  Our collaborators at the Lawrenceville Corporation visited in winter 2018 to explain this legal tool for retaining affordability in our neighborhoods.

View the presentation by clicking here.


Brereton – Dobson Fire Site

The Brereton – Dobson Fire Site development includes six lots that span from Brereton Street down to Dobson Street. A fire in December 2007 destroyed three houses and damaged others on Brereton, leaving a gap in the center of Polish Hill. The PHCA has been working with Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation (PHDC), who owns the property, and its parent organization, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), to create an innovative project at this site.

This project became a priority during input sessions for our Polish Hill Community Plan. Residents identified the site as a creative opportunity for innovative, sustainable mixed-use development in the center of our most historic and culturally significant streets.

The goal is to produce an inspired, community-based preliminary site plan that reflects the neighborhood’s desire for moderate-income affordable housing and commercial space.

These activities are funded by the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund with support from the Mayor’s Office, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Department of City Planning. The grant is administered by the Design Center through its Design Fund Program.

For updates and to view project documents, see the fire site development section on our Current Projects page.


How We Got Here

Housing & Buildings is one of four main categories of focus featured in our community plan. The goal is to maintain affordability and provide current residents with opportunities to stay in the neighborhood. The community also wants to help guide any other neighborhood (nonresidential) development, given Polish Hill’s limited vacant land and urban density.

Our Values and VisionMKnobil_PHCA_Planning7

  • Keep the neighborhood mixed-income and diverse
  • Find ways to turn renters into owners
  • Prefer vital and affordable housing to higher income
  • Make new development accessible to existing residents
  • Focus on innovative solutions — not cookie-cutter or suburban ones
  • Projects should be well designed, technology-driven and green
  • Favor scattered-site (infill) to all-at-once development

Community Guideposts

  • Preserve the neighborhood’s character by conserving existing housing stock
  • View preservation as a green housing strategy
  • Create programs to help residents renovate their properties
  • Gather community recommendations to guide new development

 Project Priorities

Projects are created using the values and guideposts established during our community planning. Recommendations include:

Photo by: Pulawski Way

  • Developing and funding programs to improve façades along pivotal streets
  • Introducing new housing types for infill and vacant property, including micro-houses
  • Conducting a community-input design process for Fire Site improvements
  • Exploring redevelopment for Immaculate Heart of Mary School
  • Participating in new transit oriented development (TOD) initiatives along Herron Avenue towards Liberty

Learn more about community discussions, priorities and recommendations for Housing & Buildings (PDF).