Hundreds of federally subsidized housing residents in Pittsburgh's East End are being forced from their homes because of squalid conditions, Mayor Bill Peduto's office said Wednesday.
Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is offering the residents relocation assistance. The Mayor's Office, along with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, are working with HUD in an attempt to find alternative affordable homes, he said.
"The homes aren't going to be subsidized anymore by HUD," McNulty said.
The federal agency on Sept. 14 issued a final enforcement action against Bethesda Apartments, which consist of 140 units in Homewood, Larimer and Garfield. McNulty said 106 apartments are occupied.
HUD cited the owner for failing to maintain the apartments to federal standards. The mayor's office said the apartments are in "deplorable condition."
The apartments are owned by Homewood Residential LP of Long Island, N.Y., and managed locally by Aishel Real Estate of Wilkinsburg.
Stephen Hersh, an owner of Homewood Residential, said Aishel is in charge of maintaining the properties and he was unaware of the enforcement action.
"I have zero involvement in this," Hersh said. "We maintained it pretty well when I was involved personally. It is possible that Aishel management is doing a bad job. If they're not taking care of it the way they need to be, shame on them."
Chaim Davidson of Aishel blamed HUD. He said the company attempted to fix "hundreds and hundreds" of problems cited by HUD, but residents repeatedly damaged the apartments and the agency refused to give Aishel time to make all repairs.
"A lot of these units, the reason they're failing, is the tenants are doing the damage," he said, estimating 400 to 500 people live in the apartments. "We corrected hundreds and hundreds of work orders, but it was never enough."
Davidson said he would "do everything possible" to help residents stay in the apartments until they find other quarters. He is not evicting them, he said.
"We're trying to help out to ensure the Housing Authority can go through this process fairly smoothly to make sure people are not put out of their homes," he said.
HUD is hosting meetings to brief residents on relocation services. It will provide $100 for travel expenses and $200 for application fees and other expenses, and will also provide money for security deposits, moving costs and transfer of utilities and give preference to those who qualify for low-income housing vouchers.
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