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This new home in McKeesport's Library District is one of two that ACTION-Housing has planned in the Library District. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
A new house built in the city's Library District already has a buyer, and the non-profit agency that oversaw construction is hoping to do more.
Pittsburgh-based ACTION-Housing secured funding for the house through the state with assistance from the city of McKeesport.
“We are planning to reapply for funding in the fall to build a second house in the winter or spring,” said Joe Costa, a housing associate with ACTION-Housing.
The new house, with a list price of $130,000, has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, one half bathroom and off-street parking. Located at the corner of Bailie and Cornell avenues, the house is also accessible for people with limited mobility.
The purchaser is a current McKeesport resident who is a first-time home buyer, Costa said. State and local officials were given a sneak preview during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 2.
The second house ACTION-Housing is planning to construct will have very similar features, he said.
The houses are being built in the same neighborhood as the Carnegie Library of McKeesport and Twin Rivers Elementary School as part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the neighborhood and generate interest for new families to move in.
(Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
“The library district neighborhood is filled with incredible architecture,” said Shari Holland, a member of the Library District Task Force. “We were really glad that ACTION-Housing sat down with neighbors and listened to the importance of having the new houses be aesthetically appropriate for the neighborhood.”
Funding for the house comes from the state's Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, Costa said. Because of that, purchasers must meet certain income requirements; a family of four must have a combined income of no more than approximately $145,000, he said.
In addition, he said, clauses in the sales contract prevent buyers from selling the house within 10 years for more than a 10 percent profit on the purchase price --- to avoid house flipping. The sales contract also forbids the buyer from using the house as a rental property.
ACTION-Housing is trying to kickstart more home ownership in the neighborhood, Costa said.
“A lot of the houses in the neighborhood are abandoned,” Costa said, and ultimately, ACTION-Housing is hoping to be able to rehabilitate some of those vacant homes for new owners.
“We are looking to find and identify other homes to do rehab for resale,” Costa said. “Rehab for resale is the ultimate goal. We didn’t just want to build a house, we wanted to help improve the neighborhood as a whole.”
Holland and her neighbors hope the new construction helps to stimulate interest in a section of the city that has a lot going for it, she said.
“We have beautiful homes and good neighbors that care about the community,” Holland said. “It’s a diverse neighborhood where kids can play and people walk down the street, and know their neighbors by name.”
“We have wonderful assets, such as the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, the McKeesport Little Theater, the McKeesport Presbyterian (Church), First United Methodist Church and ... Twin Rivers Elementary School,” she said.
Holland and other members of the Library District Task Force were extremely helpful in getting information out about the project and securing funding, Costa said. They also helped ACTION-Housing design a structure that would fit in with the surrounding homes, he said.
“In this historic neighborhood you want a house that matches the surrounding area,” Costa said.
(Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
Christopher Baumann is a freelance writer from Gibsonia. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published August 05, 2019.