Congresswoman Summer Lee Joins County Executive Innamorato, Mayor Gainey Launching New Affordable Housing Strategy to Move People Out of Shelter & Into Homes

Pittsburgh, PA

The program is set to identify 500 affordable housing units in the next 500 days, and to make those units available for people living in shelters or who are unhoused.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov | 412.841.7913
Vaibhav.Vijay@mail.house.gov | 771.215.7243

Congresswoman Summer Lee Joins County Executive Innamorato, Mayor Gainey Launching New Affordable Housing Strategy to Move People Out of Shelter & Into Homes

The program is set to identify 500 affordable housing units in the next 500 days, and to make those units available for people living in shelters or who are unhoused.

(PITTSBURGH, PA) On Thursday, June 6 at 1:00PM, Congresswoman Summer Lee, County Executive Sara Innamorato, Mayor Ed Gainey, along with Allegheny County Department of Human Services Director Erin Dalton and a coalition of other partners will host a press conference announcing a new plan to rapidly identify affordable housing units in Allegheny County and a strategy to move people from shelters into those units.

The program, called “500 In 500,” is a collaborative effort aimed at addressing homelessness by identifying 500 units of deeply subsidized affordable housing within the next 500 days.

“Our community thrives when we uplift every member. With ‘500 in 500,’ we’re not just promising change; we’re actively working towards a future where no one has to worry about having a safe, stable place to call home. This program is about putting people first, offering tangible solutions, and building a sustainable future where housing security is a reality for all” said Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12) Our collaboration across local, county, and national levels underscores our commitment to not only address the immediate housing needs but also to ensure long-term stability and prosperity for every person in every community.”

“Housing is a top priority for my administration. I want to thank all of the County leaders, partners across government, developers, foundations, and other stakeholders who have agreed to collaborate to achieve this ambitious goal,” said County Executive Sara Innamorato. “Every major city is struggling with homelessness right now, but with smart policy and collaboration, we can dramatically increase affordable housing options in Allegheny County for people experiencing homelessness. Aligning our work and investments around a common goal will catalyze significant progress on an accelerated timeline and create new pathways for thinking about and working together differently.”
Erin Dalton, Director of Human Services (DHS) said, “The Continuum of Care funds go exclusively to the most vulnerable, chronically homeless individuals. Until now, most other people left shelter on their own, but in the last few years that typical flow out of shelter was interrupted. Given the costs of housing, these neighbors are increasingly living in shelter. This new plan, ‘500 in 500,’ will help us solve this problem, housing hundreds of people, and creating room in the shelters for the most vulnerable so that nobody has to live on the street.”
“Coming out of the pandemic, our communities saw home prices and rents soar, making affordable housing even harder to come by. This effort by the county and our regional partners to increase the supply of targeted, affordable homes will get more people into permanent housing and reduce the strain on our shelter system,” said Ed Nusser, Director of Housing Strategy.

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BACKGROUND:

Rep. Lee has remained focused on the housing affordability crisis in Western Pennsylvania. For Fiscal Year 2025, Rep. Lee is fighting to secure $3 million in Community Project Funding request for Allegheny County’s initiative. Rep. Lee has also sponsored and cosponsored legislation that would ensure more access to housing and health care for folks experiencing homelessness. She also introduced DIRECT Care for the Homeless Act, a bipartisan bill that creates a pilot program to expand street medicine services. Street medicine is the practice of providing medical care to unsheltered people experiencing homelessness in locations like encampments, parks, and under bridges. She has supported increased federal funding for a variety of programs that are vital in combating, preventing, and ending homelessness in America, such as HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG), of which the County is a recipient, and she is a Cosponsor of the Ending Homelessness Act (Rep. Waters), a bill that would expand and transform the Housing Choice Voucher program into a federal entitlement, ensuring that every person who qualifies for assistance receives it.

The plan, 500 in 500, is a collaborative effort by County and local government agencies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, and regional landlords and developers. The goal is to identify 500 affordable housing units in the next 500 days, and to make those units available for people living in shelters or who are unhoused.

Homelessness has increased dramatically since 2020 nationally and locally. Both housed and unhoused people alike in Allegheny County are being squeezed by high prices, low housing inventory, and crumbling buildings. According to the Federal Reserve and US Census Bureau almost 30% of Allegheny households spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs, making it hard to afford other necessities like groceries, transportation, and health services.

Many of the people who have entered the shelter system recently are defined as “low-needs,” meaning they are not suffering from chronic homelessness, severe mental health issues or addiction, they simply lack the financial means to afford housing in an increasingly unaffordable market. In 2023, 75% of shelter bed days in Allegheny County were used by low-needs individuals. In this low-needs population, 46% of people have some source of income and 76% are first-time homeless. ‘500 in 500’ is designed specifically to help this population move from emergency shelter into housing more quickly, which will shorten shelter stays and free up shelter beds.

Efforts to identify units include:


1) Working with the Allegheny County Housing Authority (ACHA) to greatly increase the number of public housing units available to those currently living in shelters. In 2023, only 20 people moved from a homeless shelter into a public housing unit. With the new partnership, ACHA identifies units and DHS matches people to those units. Since we started a few weeks ago, we’ve already housed 21 people.

2) Deploying American Rescue Plan funds in partnership with nonprofit developers to create as many as 39 new homes for formerly homeless individuals.
Coordinating with developers of Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments to commit to making 10% of their units available to formerly homeless individuals.
Targeted acquisition of existing buildings (nursing homes, hotels, former convents) that can easily be converted to new housing units for people exiting homelessness.
Starting the Home Again program to reunify people staying in shelter with family members who are willing to take them in.


3) Acknowledging that everyone needs help after moving in, DHS is providing $3 million to ensure that tenants, property managers, and landlords all have the support they need to be set up for success.

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