Both in Pittsburgh and across Allegheny County, private and nonprofit developers have made great use of vacant public and private schools for both housing and other community-responsive uses to generate new life in existing communities ("A worthy purpose for vacant schools," Nov. 10). Often, private charitable foundations have played a critical role. The sheer number of school buildings in Philadelphia available at one time will be quite daunting, but it would seem this is a great opportunity for the region's largest foundations to create an asset pool with development capital that would guide the redevelopment.

Schools have special meaning in a community, where the memories and experiences of many generations are tied to a physical place. For many people, then, the symbol of their neighborhood school in a healthy reuse offers the same great value as an art museum, waterfront development, downtown civic space, or similar projects.

Lawrence A. Swanson, executive director, ACTION-Housing Inc., Pittsburgh

Letter to the Editor- Philadelphia Inquirer 

By Sam Spatter 

Published: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Hazelwood's redevelopment is taking another step.

With the 178-acre Almono development at the former LTV Steel Co. site getting started, a food store will replace the historic Dimperio's Market. It closed in January 2009, and was the last grocery store in the neighborhood along the Monongahela River. Dimperio's was a Hazelwood icon, having served the community for 80 years and outlasting A&P and Giant Eagle stores.

Action Housing Inc., through one of its subsidiaries, is helping restore the food store with the help of the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County.

Click here to learn more.

Finding money isn't the only challenge to rebuilding neglected neighborhoods. At the grass-roots level, it may be hard to get people to open their doors.

But a knot of community census takers in Hazelwood is encouraged.

Click here to read more.

By Michael DiVittorio 

Health Care for the Homeless, a federally funded program through Primary Care Health Services Inc., will move its McKeesport services to a new location.

Medical services have been offered to the homeless at the Intersection Soup Kitchen along Seventh Avenue for at least the past 12 years.

By the end of this year, new medical and mental health offices for the program will be located at the former YMCA, 523 Sinclair St.

Click here to read more. 


$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.