The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) has a long history of leadership in Pittsburgh and within the thousands of housing authorities throughout the United States. As we move further into the 21st century, HACP has undergone an internal rejuvenation and is poised to, once again, make major contributions to life in Pittsburgh. We are excited about our future and proud of our heritage.
Beginnings: HACP Established 1937
On August 26, 1937, following the signing of the U.S. Housing Act, the City Council of Pittsburgh created the Pittsburgh Housing Authority. The Act was intended to provide for the elimination of unsafe and unsanitary housing conditions, the eradication of slums, and the provision of decent, safe and sanitary dwellings for families of low income. The Pittsburgh Housing Authority was the first in Pennsylvania and one of the first in the nation.
HACP’s first action, the development of Bedford Dwellings, was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1938. Over the next two years, the Authority cleared 19 acres of slums along a hillcrest overlooking the Allegheny River to create the 420 apartments of Bedford Dwellings. On July 15, 1940, the first HACP tenant moved into an apartment on Bedford Avenue. In that same year, on Oct. 9, 1940, President Roosevelt dedicated Addison Terrace (now know as Skyline Terrace), in front of a crowd of nearly 30,000 Pittsburghers.
From 1939 to 1944, in spite of massive social, financial and human problems, a total of seven housing developments were constructed: Bedford Dwellings, Addison Terrace, Allequippa Terrace, Arlington Heights, Allegheny Dwellings, Glen Hazel Heights and Broadhead Manor. These developments, however, were not sufficient to keep up with the growing need for housing. This was partly due to two of the developments, Broadhead Manor and Glen Hazel Heights, being designated as war housing during World War II.
After the war, life began to return to normal, and in 1949 HACP built two more communities, Bedford Addition and St. Clair Village. As public housing facilities grew in the City of Pittsburgh, so did the activities provided for the residents of the communities. Programs were implemented by the Red Cross, Carnegie Library, the Board of Education, and Parks and Recreation. Residents also participated in sports, arts and crafts, social clubs, carnivals and parties.
In the late 1960s, a new era in public housing began with the purchase of the first Scattered Site homes for leasing to eligible low-income families. Our Scattered Site homes are located throughout various economically diverse Pittsburgh neighborhoods. The program was intended to find new and better alternatives to a traditional publicly subsidized housing; giving low-income families the opportunity to live among people of various economic standings.
During this period, the country was in the midst of civil unrest, crime was on the increase, and these societal events were reflected in HACP’s communities. In 1974, in response to these trends, HACP created an adjunct security force, substantially reducing criminal activity in our communities. Due to this success, the security force became part of the regular HACP staff and officially became a police department.
In this same time period, HACP constructed twelve new, predominantly high-rise, developments. Additionally, due to its poor condition, Glen Hazel Heights was demolished and rebuilt in 1974-75.
In the mid-1970s, two major Congressional acts occurred that directly impacted HACP. With the passage of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, handicapped-accessible units were mandated as part of the services provided. Then in 1976, the Section 8 program went into effect, which enabled tenants to rent from a private landlord, with rental assistance administered by HACP.
In 1977, HACP began to focus more on the quality of housing being provided, and the quality of life of its tenants. In particular, HACP began outreach to the elderly population. For example, our senior citizen’s lives were enhanced with bus transportation, refurbished dining areas, flower planting, and other activities.
In the 1980s, senior citizens high rises were built and two schools were rehabilitated to provide senior housing. The historic Morse School, a South Side landmark, was restored and expanded to create seventy new apartments. It was the first time any housing authority had converted a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places into public housing. Also during this decade, the former Lee School became Gualtieri Manor, a 31-apartment, four-story senior citizens home.
The 1990s was a decade of change for HACP, with a major internal reorganization of the authority. The Maintenance Department changed to a zone system of operations and instituted the use of sophisticated computer technology that significantly improved resident services. The Occupancy Department instituted a Home Selection program giving applicants freedom of choice, marking the first time any public housing authority had enabled applicants to choose where they wanted to live.
HACP renovated and demolished many of its older communities. Ten of Bidwell’s row homes and fifteen of Manchester’s Scattered Site row homes were demolished to make way for new townhomes. Allequippa Terrace and Bedford Dwellings underwent an aggressive reconfiguration and redesign, including the addition of resident programs and job opportunities services.
The changes haven’t stopped there. HACP continues to move rapidly toward realizing its vision of being the highest quality provider of affordable housing in the City of Pittsburgh. We invite you to visit our website often to experience the exciting transformation taking place at the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.