Pittsburgh mayor pushes for employer-assisted housing

Mayor cites Chicago programs where employers give workers up to $10,000 for a down payment

To keep people living in the city, the mayor of Pittsburgh would like to see employers help workers buy homes in the downtown core.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has cited Chicago as a model. In that city, the Illinois Institute of Technology worked with the Chicago Housing Authority to offer staff members $10,000 towards a down payment on a home.

In Pittsburgh, the Urban Redevelopment Authority will help any employer interested in setting up a similar program, said Ravenstahl. The authority might also be able to access federal funds to help bolster the benefit.

Chicago's public school district also offers new teachers as much as $7,500 in loans - forgiven after five years if they're still with the district - to help with the costs of buying a home.

Of the 23,000 teachers in the city, 770 have used the program since 2005 and 94 per cent have stayed with the district.

Chicago's Loyola University lends up to $10,000 to about 25 staff members each year to buy homes close to campus or near the transit line that runs through it.

In Pittsburgh, a few employers have already started employee-housing programs. Allegheny General Hospital set up a program to give employees a $2,000 grant from the state to help them buy a home. West Penn Hospital does the same and gives employees $1,000 toward closing costs.

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