PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Eileen Brown lives in on Chauncey Drive in the Hill District in one of Pittsburgh’s old housing communities.
After coming home from work she unlocks the door — then locks herself in against the craziness outside.
“Shootings, arguments, domestic violence,” Brown says. “Anything you can think of you can hear it up here.”
She’d like to move to Oak Hill — one of the housing authorities’ attractive new resident communities.
but she’s one of more than 23,000 people on waiting lists in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County who are looking for decent public housing and aren’t likely to find it.
“They have a seven-to-10-year waiting list,” she said.
While old communities like Addison Terrace are being torn down — the newer ones aren’t accepting any more applicants. And now both the city and the county have closed those lists because the chances of applicants actually getting new housing is so slim.
“It give false hope when you keep the waiting list open,” said Fran Aggazio with the Allegheny County Housing Authority.
Both city and county housing authorities say they’re being hit with funding cutbacks at a time when the number of poor and working poor are growing. But many don’t qualify for new communities like Oak Hill, which are a mix of people who pay market rates and those whose rents are subsidized.
Sister Liguori Rossner of the Jubilee Kitchen says many people are the verge or homelessness.
“I do think they want a different kind of Hill District that would exclude some of the people they think are quote undesirable,” she said.
Aggazio says that while the old communities needed to go, there just isn’t the money to find housing for all of the needy families.
“I have concerns in my heart that they would be there without homes or they’re doubled up and they deserve better,” he said.