Talks continue following missed CHOICE application deadline

MRCDC Ambassadors Nora Peacock, Diane Creese, Bobbi Adamchik and Community Engagement Manager Albert Edmunds during the August 2023 Hays Manor Community Day.

(Photo by Ishara Henry)


While the Feb. 13 deadline for applying for a federal Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant has come and gone, stakeholders in the application process continue talks and to work toward an accord. 

The Allegheny County Housing Authority decided against applying for the 2024 grant cycle that could bring between $30 and $50 million in federal grant monies to the community because all sides were not in agreement. 

In 2021, the ACHA received a $450,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant, which was used to create a plan for new housing to replace the 138 units in Hays Manor.  A draft copy of the application was submitted in June 2022 where an additional 102 units were being considered.

With the revitalization of the Hays Manor public housing site and the surrounding area as the focus of this collaborative effort, disagreements still exist. A community benefits agreement has yet to be signed by all parties including the ACHA, Borough and MRCDC. Additionally, site control for properties outside of the existing Hays Manor footprint and the percentage of low-income versus market-rate units planned is still in question.

“Rather than rush the process and submit an application that is not competitive, the Authority has determined that it will instead apply at a future date,” said Taris Vrcek, executive director MRCDC.

“Assembling a competitive application for next year means continuing efforts without interruption and building on the progress we’ve collectively made. There is much to do in a relatively short 12-month period. The time is now,” said Vrcek. 

This Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant is a highly competitive process that is awarded only to support those communities that have undergone a comprehensive local planning process and are ready to implement their “Transformation Plan” to redevelop the neighborhood.

ACHA can apply for the grant next year and has indicated a willingness to work through issues with community stakeholders.  

“Creating a revitalized McKees Rocks community with the housing, commercial and community spaces necessary for long-term growth and economic prosperity is the ultimate objective of this organization, and we look forward to continuing this partnership,” said Vrcek.


Updated: No Choice Neighborhoods bid for McKees Rocks this year