PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh approved a new pilot program aimed at providing rent relief for local small businesses.

The Commercial Rent Relief Matching Grant Program is a three-month emergency assistance program focused on businesses in lower-income neighborhoods. The URA’s Kryn Sausedo says the program depends on landlords agreeing to temporarily lower rent for their commercial tenants.

“The landlord is willing to reduce the rent, we’re willing to match that,” he said.

For example, if a landlord lowers rent by $200 a month, the URA will contribute $200 toward the rent payment, lowering the total monthly rent by $400 for the business owner. The landlord will be paid by the URA directly.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The URA has allocated $40,000 to the pilot program and is committed to a maximum monthly match of $333 each month per business. During the program’s three months, the URA hopes to help 40 to 60 local businesses.

“We’re trying to do whatever we can to help small businesses around Pittsburgh survive. And hopefully in some cases, thrive,” said Sausedo.

For landlords considering the program, Sausedo reminds them the rent reduction is for three months, not a long-term solution.

“This doesn’t have to be an indefinite commitment by landlords to their tenants, but perhaps just a little bit of breathing room,” he said.

Eligible businesses have brick and mortar stores in lower-income communities that are eligible for funding called Community Development Block Grants.

“Maybe a third of the city are in CDB eligible areas, maybe more,” said Sausedo. “So quite a few of our business districts would be eligible in Pittsburgh.”

Because this a pilot program, the URA is still finalizing some of the program’s procedures like the application process. Applications will likely be ready by October and will include a map of eligible neighborhoods.

Any landlords or business owners interested can contact the URA directly.

Shelby Cassesse