|Posted by Elwin Green on October 22, 2018 at 1:15 PM|
THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, WHILE I’M WRITING.
A Homewood apartment building that once lost its Section 8 subsidy is holding an open house today to show off the renovations performed by its new owner.
The six-unit building at 7301 Hamilton Avenue was part of Bethesda Homewood, a real estate portfolio of more than 100 units that failed inspections by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for three years in a row before HUD pulled the portfolio’s Section 8 subsidy last fall.
In February of this year, the properties were acquired by Omicelo, a Strip-District based real estate investment firm, and renamed Esperanza Homewood (“esperanza” is Spanish for “hope”). The Hamilton Avenue building is the first property in the portfolio to have its renovations completed.
Referring to the quality of the renovations, Omicelo founder Joshua Pollard said that while the units will remain affordable, “These look like market-rate units. That’s sort of the point for us.”
Pollard is an area native (“I grew up on the border of Rankin and Braddock.”) who returned to Pittsburgh in 2014 after graduating from the University of Rochester with a double major in economics and statistics and doing a stint at Goldman Sachs, where he became a vice-president before turning 30.
As a real estate investor, Pollard’s vision goes beyond return on investment measured in dollars. In conjunction with Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services and the nonprofit Community Human Services, Omicelo has created the Family Navigators Initiative. Each family who moves into the newly-renovated Esperanza units will be assigned a “family navigator” who will help tenants to navigate four areas of life - physical health, behavioral health, workforce development, and experiential education, “to help someone find the kind of education that makes them happy and could lead to higher incomes.”