On Wednesday, March 9, Tri-COG Land Bank (TCLB) sold a house in Rankin and rowhome in East Pittsburgh to Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh (RTP), a nonprofit housing developer. Using funding from Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) of Pittsburgh and First Commonwealth Bank, RTP will renovate the properties and sell them to income-qualified buyers as affordable housing.
“I applaud the work that Tri-COG Land Bank and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh are doing to not only provide first time homeownership opportunities for Pittsburgh families, but also their efforts to acquire and rehabilitate properties to remediate blight,” said Evan Zuverink, Vice President and CRA Officer at First Commonwealth Bank. “At First Commonwealth Bank, we look forward to being a partner in this project and helping support these organizations, families, and communities they serve.”
“FHLBank Pittsburgh is proud to serve our members, like First Commonwealth Bank, and support affordable housing in our region,” said Megan Krider, Manager of Affordable Housing and Community Development at FHLBank of Pittsburgh. “This work with community partners including Tri-COG Land Bank and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh has created more homeownership opportunities for local families.”
TCLB acquired the Rankin property in March of 2021 and the East Pittsburgh property in December of 2020. Following their acquisition, TCLB pursued a legal process called Quiet Title Action to ensure that the houses would be eligible for title insurance. Title insurance protects the new buyers from being held liable for debts incurred by previous owners. TCLB also helped to stabilize the properties by maintaining the exterior, cutting grass, and clearing brush. It is currently renovating another property in East Pittsburgh on the same street.
“As Councilwoman of Rankin, I welcome this renovation,” said Geneva Parks. “It will bring revenue to Rankin, beautify and improve our community.”
This sale marks the 25th property that TCLB has sold since it was founded in 2017. Most properties take at least 18 months to acquire and sell due to the legal requirements involved with buying properties at Sheriff Sale and the other court proceedings required to provide title insurance to buyers. As a designated land bank operating under the PA Land Bank Act, TCLB is better equipped to overcome legal barriers and identify buyers that align with local community goals.
“In our first few years of operation, we focused our energy on putting the necessary systems in place to manage properties and navigate the legal requirements to clear and insure titles,” said An Lewis, Executive Director of TCLB. “Now that our core processes are solidified, we are excited about expanding our impact through trusted partnerships with organizations like Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh. Partnerships are critical because often the communities that we work in require multiple interventions. Being able to offer those interventions at the same time in a coordinated fashion makes the impact greater and the improvements more sustaining.”
In 2022, TCLB and RTP will be building on their partnership as part of a larger collaborative that also includes City of Bridges Community Land Trust, Steel Rivers Council of Governments, and Turtle Creek Valley Council of Governments. With funding from the Forbes Funds, these organizations are developing a scalable model to work together to revitalize communities and recover blighted properties for community reuse.
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About Tri-COG Land Bank
Founded in 2017, Tri-COG Land Bank (TCLB) revitalizes neighborhoods by transitioning vacant, blighted properties to beneficial reuse. TCLB partners with local municipalities, community development corporations, nonprofits, and individuals to strategically align purchases with each community’s priorities and plans.
TCLB currently operates in 26 municipalities: Blawnox, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, Clairton, Dravosburg, East McKeesport, East Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Etna, Forest Hills, Glassport, McKeesport, Millvale, Monroeville, North Braddock, North Versailles, Pitcairn, Port Vue, Rankin, Sharpsburg, South Versailles, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, White Oak, and Wilkins.