Affordable Homeownership

Affordable homeownership will provide opportunities for neighbors to invest in themselves and in their community, while building equity and strengthening their futures. New housing will be single-family detached homes, arranged on narrow lots in keeping with the neighborhood style.







Project Plan

Building upon the work of the Charles Street Area Council, which constructed 31 single-family dwellings in the 1980's and 1990's, CSAC's Charles Street Affordable Homeownership project will continue our vision to restore middle-class wealth and attract new neighbors in Charles Street Valley by building 21 new owner-occupied homes.

The site for Charles Street’s Affordable Homeownership project contains 31 vacant parcels. These properties include approximately 52,250 square feet or 1.2 acres of contiguous land. An additional 19,000 square feet of adjacent property has been identified for potential future development.

The proposed development site is currently zoned as Single Family Detached Residential (R1D-H). Single-family homes were already located here in the past. Therefore, vital infrastructure is already in place for residential development (i.e. storm sewers, power, water, and streets).

The project also sits adjacent to the City owned Cross-Strauss Parklet and along a public transportation corridor. To the west and east of the proposed housing site is a city-designated greenway (see Neighborhood Impact).

The positive impact of the Charles Street Affordable Homeownership project will be complemented by other local efforts:

DMR Heartland Homebuyer Program: CSAC is connecting residents to a free 12-month homebuyer certification offered by NeighborWorks of Western PA . Our intention is that these 8 people with be the first pre-qualified buyers of the houses.

Cross-Strauss Parklet Renovation: This City-owned and managed playground has not been renovated in over 20 years. CSAC has received support from HUD Choice Neighborhoods and a commitment from City elected officials to renovate.

Greenway Planning: CSAC is developing a plan for a greenways implementation on what used to be Harlan Avenue along CSV's southern boundary. It includes an active, usable space including a trail, overlook, landscaping, and city step maintenance.

In 2021, the Forbes Funds created a resident-centered community planning process in partnership with CSAC called The Commons to address economic, racial, and systemic inequities in community development.

This resulted in an opportunity for everyone in the Charles Street Valley to identify and prioritize possible improvements. Results from Round 1 (completed 2021), can be found on The Commons Dashboard. Round 2 of the survey will provide a deeper insight into the types of housing and commercial development that residents want to see in the Charles Street Valley.

These will result in a “blueprint” for a process that collects salient suggestions around future development from people who might not have historically been engaged in the such processes. CSAC endeavors to invest in improvements that have the most utility and add the greatest value to the community overall.

The styles of housing and materials will be determined by our community engagement processes during the predevelopment & design phases. The three-story, single-family detached homes will take into account the existing style of housing in the community, as reflected in the narrow lots and exterior design.

The program for the units is as follows:

  • First Floor: Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room, Powder Room (800 sf)
  • Second Floor: Three Bedrooms, Two Bathrooms (800 sf)
  • Attic: Bedroom, Office, Playroom, Storage (400 sf)
  • Total: 2,000 square feet plus optional garage
  • We believe the design of the homes will satisfy feedback from community members as well as contribute to our organizational goal of improving generational wealth for families.

    Future development in Charles Street Valley is imperative to achieve the goal of a stabilized housing market with a more diverse composition of unity types and small businesses that serve new residents. Mixed-use development models have proven to be effective here in the past. There were many commercial spaces below affordable rental units along the N. Charles Street corridor until they were demolished in the 1990’s because of neglect and perpetual disinvestment.

    Currently, a 5 year, 5 phase plan for mixed-use and live-work housing is in process of being implemented in the southernmost part of The Valley along Flocker Way and Nublock Street near the Charles Street Valley gateway. Private developers embarking upon this project are mindful of the existing community needs and the housing market and are likely to continue the nonprofit-private relationship to help create affordable housing.

    CSAC has made significant strides in advancing the Affordable Homeownership Program. Having completed Phase 1 of the pre-development tasks, CSAC has successfully conducted due diligence, including surveying, a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (with Phase II recommended), geotechnical engineering services, a wetland investigation report, and preliminary utility coordination. These foundational steps have paved the way for the next phases of the project.

    In Phase 2, CSAC has received funding for Task 2 (Schematic Design - Master Plan) and Task 3 (Design Development). Task 2 involves schematic design work, including a kick-off meeting, lot layout planning, conceptual designs for the first seven homes, community feedback sessions, and the preparation of illustrative site plans. Task 3 involves design development tasks such as pre-application meetings with the City of Pittsburgh, obtaining necessary entitlements, lot consolidation, addressing, and organizing community engagement events.

    We are now actively working on receiving funding for Task 4, which involves the creation of detailed construction documents necessary for the next phase of the project. In addition to the construction documentation, CSAC is also launching a home-repair program for existing homeowners in the community. This program aims to address critical repair needs, helping to maintain and improve the current housing stock. Funding is urgently needed to support both the construction documentation phase and the home-repair program, ensuring that new and existing homeowners alike can benefit from safe, stable, and affordable housing in the Charles Street Valley.