Woman moves into ‘dream home’ thanks to $5,000 from Pittsburgh housing fund
Natalie Perko needed help with a down payment and closing costs to afford her dream home in Pittsburgh’s Brighton Heights neighborhood.
She found it through the Pittsburgh Housing Opportunity Fund, a $10 million pot of money the city sets aside each year to help low-wage earners afford housing within city borders.
“I just can’t describe how thankful I am,” Perko said Friday outside her house on Richardson Avenue. “It just seems like a blessing to get into a really nice house in the city for no money. Mortgage payments don’t start until two months after you move in. I haven’t paid one penny to be here yet, and I’ve been here since (May 3).”
Pittsburgh City Council in 2016 created the fund to address the city’s affordable housing problem. Officials estimate that 17,000 city residents need housing at below competitive market rates.
Fund Director Jessica Smith Perry said Perko was one of the first people to receive help through the Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program. Perko received $5,000 toward a home purchase of $30,800.
“It needs a lot of work, but I’m willing to do it,” Perko said, adding that she plans to renovate the interior.
To date, 16 people have received a total $60,000 through the program.
The fund also provides subsidies for such things as rental assistance, homeowner expenses and fixing up vacant structures for rent and resale.
Perko, who works as a driver for a McKees Rocks school bus company and a Dormont floral shop and greenhouse, was renting in Dormont but had to leave after her landlord objected to the eight cats she rescued and adopted.
“I like the city, and I think it’s a good place to start, especially on your own,” she said.
In addition to helping city residents, the fund is designed to attract new residents, according to Smith Perry.
City Council earlier this week approved the proposed allocations for 2019. Smith Perry said about half of money set aside in 2018 has been allocated.
People can learn more about the fund through the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority website or by calling (412) 255-6639.
“We want to be a resource to help people who may be just a little scared or daunted by the process of buying a home,” Smith Perry said. “Please call us if it’s something that you’re thinking about doing.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .