$40,000 is all that separates a house in Millvale from becoming a transitional home for homeless women veterans and their families.

The house was donated to ACTION-Housing in 2010 by a couple who, after their retirement, expressed a desire to see their property become housing for veterans. The project finally got off the ground when ACTION-Housing received a $100,000 grant from the R.K. Mellon Foundation through the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. Unfortunately the cost to completely rehabilitate the house is estimated at $140,000, leaving a gap you can help us fill. 

Once the rehab is complete, ACTION-Housing’s partner, the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, will provide case management and supportive services to the future residents: homeless female veterans and their families who will live in the home from 30-45 days, allowing them to find permanent housing and resolve their crisis.  

VLP was recently awarded a grant by the United Way of Allegheny County for a program to support homeless female veterans, either individually or with children. According to VLP, female veterans now account for 15% of soldiers returning from recent actions and are becoming a proportionate component of the homeless veteran population. While they face some of the same challenges that returning male veterans do, their needs are often distinct. Women veterans are often single mothers, victims of domestic and/or sexual violence (often service-related), and much more likely to have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan actions. VLP provides these women with short-term emergency housing, as well as long-term supportive transitional housing to help them find employment, obtain additional professional education, and re-construct a stable civilian life.

The home itself is a natural two-unit duplex with off street parking. It is on a bus line and in close proximity to shopping and amenities. The building, which had previously been an office, is structurally sound, but did not have a functioning kitchen or bathroom, and was in general disrepair. ACTION-Housing has already completed an interior demolition for a gut-rehab on the structure in preparation for reconstruction and service for VLP’s homeless female veteran’s initiative. When complete the property will feature a fully wheelchair accessible one bedroom first floor unit, and an additional two bedroom unit on the second and third floors. Veterans Leadership Program will place the building into service immediately upon completion.


This is the third home that VLP and ACTION-Housing have placed into service for the program. The first family was sheltered in an existing ACTION-Housing owned multi-family building in Swissvale. The second is a single-family house in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood that was renovated after Lowe’s Home Improvement donated over $15,000 worth of material and hundreds of hours of labor as part of its Lowe’s Heroes initiative.

The need for housing in this region for veterans persists. Under no circumstances should a veteran be left homelessness. Pittsburgh has a high concentration of veterans, and ACTION Housing and our partners are working hard to meet their housing needs.

Please send contributions to:

ACTION-Housing, Inc.

425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900

Pittsburgh PA 15219

Attn: “Veterans Housing.”


Thank you for helping ACTION-Housing and VLP make this home a reality.    

By Adam Brandolph

Lucy de Barbaro is months away from moving into her new home in Squirrel Hill, but she's counting the savings she'll reap in utility bills.

De Barbaro, a software engineer at Alcatel Lucent, and her husband, Ayres Freitas, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, expect to save up to 90 percent on those bills by building their duplex along Fernwald Road to extreme energy-efficient — so-called passive house — standards.

“We make a lot of personal choices that consider environmental impacts,” said de Barbaro, who drives a hybrid car.

Passive houses, popular in Europe for years, are built around the idea of making buildings airtight, super-insulated and energy efficient so they don't allow warm air to escape in the winter or cold air to escape in the summer. Signature features often include thick outside walls and multi-layered roofs, triple-pane windows and a south-facing orientation.

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The Urban Redevelopment Authority board Thursday authorized entering into exclusive negotiations with ACTION-Housing and Telesis Corp., which have partnered to buy the Spahr Building on Second Avenue in Hazelwood and create a cultural center for the faith-based neighborhood nonprofit Center of Life and a restaurant and/or catering business.

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By Diana Nelson Jones

Pittsburgh is host to the eighth annual North American Passive House Conference next week and is bringing in U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan for the opening keynote address.
The conference is October 15-19 at the Omni William Penn Hotel, 530 William Penn Place. Two days of pre-conference technical workshops begin Tuesday, Oct. 15. On Wednesday, from 5:30-7:30, a reception will open the poster session and exhibit hall.

A largely vacant stretch of Second Avenue in Hazelwood would be filled with music, youth programming, and commercial and residential space as part of a proposed makeover designed to complement the $1 billion former LTV coke works redevelopment.

Under the plan, the vacant Spahr Building, which was a former G. C. Murphy's store, would be transformed into programming and performance space for Hazelwood's faith-based Center of Life organization.

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