Garfield Commons – Resident Involvement Ensures Sustainability

According to City of Pittsburgh Housing Authority Executive Director, Caster Binion, Garfield is the model on how affordable housing should look. Beginning almost 7 years ago, the severely distressed public housing development where 326 row houses existed, is now a mixed income community that will consist of 225 townhomes upon completion. The construction of the remaining 50 homes was completed April 2013, ten detached homes of which have garages.

This project achieved high “green” standards established by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and was awarded tax credits for all four phases consecutively. Additionally each phase has been completed within a year.But perhaps its most notable accomplishment is the record number of Section 3 employees and MBE/WBE contractors involved with the project, more than 54 both skilled and un-skilled laborers from Garfield and surrounding neighborhoods, said Tisha Germany, Assistant Vice President of KBK Enterprises.

We engaged the community by working with the former resident council, Garfield Jubilee, Bloomfield Garfield, the local National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) and the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania along with the community. 54 Section 3 employees worked on the construction of Garfield Commons. The development featured the largest number of Section 3 employment in the City’s history.

Section 3 is intended to ensure when employment or contracting opportunities are generated because a Section 3 covered project or activity requires the employment of additional persons or the awarding contracts for work, preference must be given to low and very low income persons or business concerns residing in the community where the project is located. Section 3 promotes local economic development, neighborhood economic improvement and individual self-sufficiency. Of 33 subcontractors, 21 were minority and women owned businesses (MWBE) .

It is very likely that the Garfield model will be implemented in some form with Addison Terrace when the development goes vertical. KBK Enterprises won the award for Addison Terrace, exceeding their largest minority award for Garfield. Garfield has given proof to the theory that putting residents to work does work for everyone involved, especially the community. Residents who are employed in the redevelopment of their community have a personal, tangible investment to ensure that the community stays sustainable.

Residents at Garfield are offered and participate in a multitude of programming sponsored through The KBK Foundation, the community supportive services partner of KBK Enterprises. The core mantra of The KBK Foundation is “Bridging Today’s Realities With Tomorrow’s Possibilities.” Many of the resident activities occur at the development’s state of the art community center, known as The Pride Center. Activities such as, computer and fitness classes, tax preparation, community days, harvest and holiday festivals have high resident participation. Keith B. Key, Chairman of The KBK Foundation has a vested interest in the Garfield community. He was raised in Garfield Heights. It gave him the opportunity to sow back into the community where he once grew up.