Wilkinsburg mayor supports merger with Pittsburgh

Wilkinsburg officials say a merger would be a win-win situation, with borough residents seeing a steep cut in their property tax bills and Pittsburgh benefiting from a gain in population.

Officials said Wilkinsburg residents would see a steep cut in their property tax bill, and Pittsburgh would benefit from a 15,000-person gain in population.

Property taxes in Wilkinsburg are among the highest in Allegheny County. Wilkinsburg officials said that hurts homeowners and hinders redevelopment.

“If you’re a homeowner who makes $20,000 per year and your house is worth $45,000, you pay 35 percent more in Wilkinsburg than you do in the city so it’s really difficult for people in Wilkinsburg to absorb those costs,” said Tracey Evans, of Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp.

“There are a lot of people who want to stay here, and people who want to move into Wilkinsburg, but the taxes are too much of a burden to promote homeownership or to promote entrepreneurship,” said Wilkinsburg Mayor Marita Garrett.

Garrett said Pittsburgh already provides fire service and trash pickup for the borough.

Garrett said she supports a merger even though it would eliminate her job.

“As a public servant, it’s not about us, it’s about the public if you’re getting into it for the right reasons,” Garrett said.

The petition needs about 340 signatures of Wilkinsburg residents in order to go on the November general election ballot. Pittsburgh City Council must also approve the proposal.

The referendum would not affect Wilkinsburg School District, but officials said it may prompt a school merger with Pittsburgh. Wilkinsburg students from grades 7 through 12 currently attend Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Source: Wilkinsburg mayor supports merger with Pittsburgh

Part of former Troutman store sold; apartments planned

An Arizona-based real estate investment firm bought part of the vacant seven-story building in downtown Greensburg that formerly housed A.E. Troutman Co. department store with plans to convert it into 57 apartments.

Urban Communities Steel Valley LLC of Phoenix told city officials it wants to create “multi-family workforce apartments” in the building at 225 S. Pennsylvania Ave. Urban Communities Steel Valley, one of seven funds Urban Communities formed to acquire real estate across the nation, bought the building from Downtown Commons LLC of East Pittsburgh on April 22 for $460,000, according to the Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds.

The 7,140-square-foot building remains linked to the original Troutman’s building on South Main Street, which was converted into apartments for senior citizens by the Westmoreland County Housing Authority more than 20 years ago. The department store closed in 1985, but the two buildings remain connected by a bridge over an alley, as well as a tunnel. Seton Hill University had used the first floor of the building from 2008 to 2015, for visual arts classes, said Jennifer Reeger, Seton Hill spokeswoman.

Source: Part of former Troutman store sold; apartments planned

Housing proposals aim to boost HUD budget for building affordable units | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WASHINGTON — To Larry Swanson, the small apartment buildings scattered across the Pittsburgh region stand as a testament to federal support for affordable housing — support that has waned over the years.

The buildings provide independent living low-income people with a range of disabilities who otherwise would face living in nursing homes or other institutions, said Mr. Swanson, the executive director of Action Housing Inc., a 64-year-old nonprofit that builds, improves and preserves affordable housing throughout the region.

Those projects, most of which have 10 to 15 units each, would not be economically feasible to build, he said, if it weren’t for a specific financing program, called Section 811, offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Those are the kind of things that private developers don’t do,” Mr. Swanson said. With other federal incentives to build housing, like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit run through the U.S. Treasury Department, “you can’t do the same types of projects; you can’t serve the same kinds of people.”

But a lack of HUD funding has deterred Mr. Swanson’s agency from pursuing such a project for more than a decade, he said. “HUD has underfunded for a very long time,” he said.

It’s a familiar lament issued over the years by some advocates of affordable housing and congressional Democrats. Now, with Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, a push for federal housing dollars is front and center as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Housing proposals aim to boost HUD budget for building affordable units | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Emergency Rental Assistance Program Available For Western Pa. Residents – CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some renters continue to struggle to make ends meet, but a new statewide program hopes to ease some of that burden.

Renter Lee McCrorie told KDKA that she wishes she could just buy a house.

“I was paying $1,193, plus gas and water and all that and they just upped it to $1,200 a month,” said McCrorie.

She lives in Seven Fields and just learned about the Emergency Renter’s Assistance Program. She hopes it’ll help with her rent and piled up late fees.

“I have a lot of other bills that have been sliding and plus that one month that I was late, my sister paid it for me, so I have to pay her back,” said McCrorie.

The state sounded the alarm Tuesday, saying it doesn’t want renters to miss out on this money because they didn’t know about the program.

“This program is deliberately designed to help people dig out of what may be some very deep holes,” said Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “It doesn’t matter if your monthly rent is $500 or $2,500 as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.”

There’s $847 million up for grabs across 67 counties. Allegheny County created a website for applications, which can be found here.

Source: Emergency Rental Assistance Program Available For Western Pa. Residents – CBS Pittsburgh

How To Organize, Declutter Your Home – CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — How much stuff is tucked away around your home and you have no idea where it is or even what is there?

Uncluttering our living space is no small challenge and Leslie McKee of McKee Organizing says start with a simple rule.

“I say if you haven’t touched it in a year you should really think about what you’re doing with it.”

Thinking “I might use that someday,” is the common downfall of the decluttering process.  “We do hear that and then we try to do a reality check,” says McKee.

When they are asked to help someone McKee and her crew set up categories. “Everything is either active, reference, or archive. So we want your active things around you the things that you use all the time, and reference things put away, and then archive things put even in a less easy to access area.”

Anything outside those categories has to go. “If you can’t find it and it’s getting ruined and it’s not gaining value is not really a collection, and it’s time to start thinking about getting rid of it.”

McKee says there are an abundance of places that are ready and willing to take your stuff. “Goodwill, American Legion, Little Sisters of the Poor, St Vincent DePaul, and Construction Junction,” can take your things that could be used by someone else.

But first you have to commit to parting with something and McKee says often people hang onto things simply because they have for years and feel a commitment to keeping something they really don’t need or want.

Source: How To Organize, Declutter Your Home – CBS Pittsburgh

Latrobe woman’s tiny vacation house gets online magazine spread | TribLIVE.com

Shirley McMarlin

For Jessica Hooper, part of the appeal of tiny house living is that “when you strip away the clutter and distractions in life, you are able to focus your energy on what is truly important.”

That’s what the Latrobe resident told readers of Tiny House Magazine, an online publication that features her tiny vacation getaway on the cover of the current issue.

The 160-square-foot structure fulfills Hooper’s dream of being able to afford a vacation home in the Laurel Highlands, where she vacationed with her family as a child and now takes advantage of the hiking trails, ski runs, paddleboarding and whitewater opportunities.

She calls the house “Eventyr,” a word with Old Norse roots that means “an adventure, fairy tale (a folktale), something exceptionally great.”

She bought the house as a shell and spent 18 months working on it, completing the project last April. She purchased a lot at Roaring Run Resort in Donegal Township, where it now sits amid the woods.

Source: Latrobe woman’s tiny vacation house gets online magazine spread | TribLIVE.com

Gardening growing as a hobby during the coronavirus pandemic | WJAC

Everyone is trying to find creative ways to stay busy while staying home as the statewide shutdown continues because of the coronavirus.

One hobby seems to be budding in popularity, gardening. Local nursery owners say more people have been paying them a visit to get their gardens going.

Jesse Stuver, the owner of Stuver’s Riverside Nursery in Johnstown, says this time have made people want to become more self sufficient and grow their own food instead of relying on the store.

“It’s a good opportunity to put food on your plate and there’s nothing like the taste of a tomato or apple pie that you’ve grown the tree yourself or the plant yourself,” said Stuver.

“You get to see thing that you’re obviously not going to see in an office and it’s kind of nice to stop and smell the roses sometimes, I think that’s important,” said Stuver.

Even though people won’t be working from home or unable to see friends and family forever. Stuver says he believes this trend will continue past this time.

“When people do go back to work I think they’re going to have a little more time, I think it’s been a reset button for people. They’re spending more time with family and gardening is a family thing, you can get the kids out and they can help till the garden, help pull weeds and whatever needs to be done,” said Stuver.

And if you are looking to get a green thumb during the pandemic, Stuver says to make sure you have fertile soil and keep weeds away from your garden. But most importantly, he says to have fun with it.

Source: Gardening growing as a hobby during the coronavirus pandemic | WJAC

PENNSYLVANIA CICADAS: 17-year cicadas expected to emerge soon

For the last 17 years, millions of these cicadas have been sleeping in the ground, but in May they will come out of hibernation and start buzzing.

They are different from the kind of cicadas seen and heard in Western Pennsylvania every summer.

For the last 17 years, millions of these cicadas have been sleeping in the ground, but in May they will come out of hibernation and start buzzing.

They will make their appearance as soon as soil 8 inches down reaches an average of 64 degrees.

They will stick around for about six weeks, reproducing and being very loud, before the droning buzz fades away for another 17 years

Source: PENNSYLVANIA CICADAS: 17-year cicadas expected to emerge soon

Create a fresher home with a few laundering tricks

 

Whites, brights, dark colors and delicates — doing the laundry can sometimes seem overwhelming.

Pam Howarth of Menallen Township, a retired family consumer science teacher for Uniontown Area School District who also serves as a 4-H leader, shared some insights into cleaning clothes.

“First of all, stain treatment should be done as soon as possible,’’ Howarth noted.

Howarth prefers using a dish-washing detergent that cuts grease and doesn’t have to be laundered right away, but remarked that specific stain treatment products are also good. Read the label, however, to see if the clothing has to be washed within a certain amount of time. Howarth also mentioned some people like to carry stain treatment products that are made to be taken with you, such as wipes.

Howarth said sometimes she puts bleach on a garment held over the sink but then rinsed well to avoid bleach causing a yellow stain.

To make your whites their whitest, Howarth noted a lot of people put a cup of white vinegar in their loads.

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