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Penn Hills tiny homes project for veterans gets $50K boost from state

A planned Penn Hills tiny home project for homeless veterans recently received a boost from a state grant.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority gave $50,000 to the housing project being planned by Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard.

The $5 million project will consist of 15 to 17 tiny homes, a community center, shared community garden, greenhouse, gathering pavilion, stormwater retention pond and a walking trail on a 3.7-acre parcel along Jefferson Road.

“It’s going to take a village to build this village,” Veterans Place Executive Director Marlon Ferguson said. “We need government, corporate, private entities and citizens to fund it and sustain it as well. I think this is a way we can really make an impact helping our veterans and the Penn Hills community.”

Ferguson did not have up-to-date totals of the amount of money raised for the project.

“It’s projects such as these that offer a helping hand to those in need,” state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, said in a release announcing the grant. “This grant will help this worthwhile project get off the ground and attain the financing it needs to be completed.”

Shawn O’Mahony, founder of the Penn Hills nonprofit community improvement organization known as Bringing Out the Best, serves as project manager.

He said planning and fundraising started about a year ago, and the project has snowballed.

“Everybody wants to support our veterans,” O’Mahony said. “We’re looking for people for naming rights for the community center. Each house can be purchased and named by entities.”

Houses are expected to cost between $50,000 and $75,000 each.

Strip District architects AE7 produced plans for the housing community and Massaro Construction of Pittsburgh will be the general contractor. Gateway Engineers did core sampling of the site, along with other pre-planning work.

Veterans Place has to get municipal approval and permits before construction can start.

“A lot of people want to come on board and help with this project,” O’Mahony said.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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