Wesley Family Services, New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo, and members of the local community celebrated today at the groundbreaking for Pioneer Apartments, an integrated development that will be home to a four-story apartment building and offices.
“For many of us, this project has been a labor of love and we are thrilled to be a part of the economic revitalization that Mayor Guzzo is spearheading,” Stephen Christian-Michaels, Chief Strategy Officer of Wesley Family Services said during today’s groundbreaking ceremony. “Our organization is committed to providing transformational care, and this integrated development will do just that. We will be offering affordable housing units as well as support services—all in one location. By helping to reduce the burden of accessibility, we’re confident that many local individuals and families will benefit from this development.”
The apartment building will have 36 one bedroom, two bedroom, and three bedroom units to meet the needs of both individuals and families. Several of the units will have mobility and hearing/visual accessibility in order to accommodate those who may have a disability or special need. It’s being built on the site of a former parking lot, between 10th and 11th Streets and Fourth Avenue and Cherry Alley. On the first and second floors of the building, Wesley Family Services will offer a variety of programs and services that will be available to residents and members of the local community. More than 100 of the organization’s behavioral health and autism therapeutic staff members will work out of this location.
Mayor Tom Guzzo was the emcee for the groundbreaking ceremony and has long been a supporter of the development.
“We are happy that Wesley Family Services chose to put Pioneer Apartments in our city,” Guzzo said. “I am focused on economic revitalization for New Kensington and Pioneer Apartments is a big investment. Not only will many residents and families in our area be able to benefit from this, but this project will generate tax revenue for us.”
Along with Mayor Guzzo, State Senator Jim Brewster, Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas and representatives from Congressman Guy Reschenthaler and State Representative Frank Dermody’s office were in attendance at the ceremony. Additionally, representatives from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority, US Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Richard King Mellon Foundation, Redevelopment Authority of New Kensington and the Westmoreland Community Foundation were on hand to show their support.
“The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency is proud to be a funding partner for the construction of Pioneer Apartments,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Brian A. Hudson Sr. “This new development will provide much needed accessible and affordable housing for people in New Kensington. The provision of housing services in the same building with behavioral health services will be a big help for residents in the apartments.”
Wesley Family Services also received a tremendous amount of support for Pioneer Apartments from the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH).
“CSH invested so heavily in the new Behavioral Health Center because we are convinced it will spur economic growth and result in better care being delivered in the community,” said Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of CSH. “Beyond the positive economic and health impacts for all of New Kensington, we are enthusiastically embracing the strong emphasis Wesley Family Services is placing on providing our youth with greater access to more innovative mental health services, and their goal to elevate the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
This development which is expected to cost $18.2 million is being funded largely through two tax credit programs: New Market Tax Credits from the Corporation for Supportive Housing and Low Income Housing Tax Credits allocated by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority (PHFA). The organization also received grant funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, as well as a no-interest loan from PHFA.
Construction on Pioneer Apartments officially started in June when the organization closed on the property. After the groundbreaking ceremony, attendees were given tours of the site and they are able to see firsthand how construction is progressing. The development is expected to be open by July 2020.