On June 9, ELDI was awarded $400,000 from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) Fund to create new affordable homeownership opportunities in the East End and beyond. This PHARE grant will help us continue our blight-fighting mission and assist in the rehab of six houses in East Liberty and Larimer, many of which were acquired through conservatorship. ELDI’s two spin-off organizations—Rising Tide Partners and Catapult Greater Pittsburgh—also received substantial awards to address blight and minority homeownership.

The PHARE Fund was established in 2010 to provide the mechanism by which certain allocated state or federal funds, as well as funds from other outside sources, could be used to assist with the creation, rehabilitation, and support of affordable housing throughout the Commonwealth.

ELDI will gut rehab six vacant houses for affordable homeownership. Four will be sold to buyers earning 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and two will be reserved for buyers earning 50% AMI. All of these structures are in extremely bad condition and will need to be completely remodeled from roof to basement. PHARE funds, combined with additional funding sources, will help us get the job done.

Two of the houses are on Rural Street in East Liberty and the remaining four are located on Mayflower and Auburn Streets in Larimer. Our goal is to work with great partners like Catapult Greater Pittsburgh and others to find and prepare homeowners to live in these future remodeled homes by 2025.

Homes on Mayflower, Auburn, and Rural Streets in East Liberty and Larimer that ELDI will be fixing up with help from our PHARE award.

Why it matters

Blight isn’t just an eyesore: it costs neighborhoods in health and property value over time. A Tri-COG Land Bank report noted that properties within 200 feet of a single vacant parcel can see a decrease in value as high as 16.5%. So even though fixing blight is expensive, the cost of doing nothing is way higher.

ELDI is no stranger to fighting blight. The community defined their vision for East Liberty in East Liberty’s 1999 and 2010 Community Plans. But ELDI wasn’t able to start making true headway towards realizing that vision until 2002 when we realized that we needed to take on the scale of the problem. That meant taking site control of hundreds of vacant, blighted, and/or abandoned properties in the neighborhood, using our residential development strategy of “Test Drives, Flips, Targets, and Mothballs.”

ELDI’s Residential Development Strategy


A pipeline of prospective buyers were given the opportunity to “Test Drive” the neighborhood by renting houses in good condition owned by ELDI.


Houses in fair condition were “Flipped” to new buyers after moderate improvements were made.


Nuisance and poor condition properties were developed with significant renovations as “Targets” to supply move-in quality homes to new buyers.


Recognizing that rehabilitating just a few dilapidated properties would drain available resources, ELDI acquired and simply “Mothballed” these properties for future development. When the neighborhood finally tipped toward revitalization, it became financially feasible to develop the mothballed properties. Some of these properties and vacant lots were held by ELDI for over 10 to 15 years.

➡️ Stay tuned for our 20-year retrospective impact report launching in September to learn more about how we helped transform the neighborhood from blight to opportunity.

Our approach to intervene at the scale of the whole neighborhood was bold for a community development corporation, especially in the early 2000s when homes in East Liberty were not worth what it cost to renovate—meaning that every single house was a recipe for financial disaster.

However, with an experienced leadership team who saw the potential of the neighborhood, ELDI was able to garner support from the City and other key partners by pledging to buy and maintain these properties.

Today, over 20 years later, East Liberty has come a long way, and with this project, we are working to clean up the remaining areas that still need some attention—so that we can ultimately fulfill the community’s vision of a vibrant, mixed-income neighborhood for all.

➡️ Learn more about how we fight blight through conservatorship.