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As evictions soar in Allegheny County, Pa., a sense of urgency permeates

Jacob Geanous, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in News & Features

Last year alone, at least $14 million in emergency assistance was doled out to struggling renters, according to Kyle Webster, general counsel for Action Housing, which manages and allocates at least five different sources of housing funding.

"Coming out of this pandemic, which was a true crisis, even though tenants are getting income again, inflation led to unprecedentedly high living expenses including some severe increases in rent and this has led to people just not being able to afford their housing," Webster said. "What has happened has been truly devastating for a lot of people."

'The conditions were hell'

Nuell said she received $4,000 in federal funding through the federal Family Self-Sufficiency program, which offers rental assistance to those in public housing, but never put it toward her back rent because she did not consider the apartment to be a healthy environment for her children.

Nuell said the apartment experienced flooding and had issues with mice, and said she begged to be moved to a different unit, to no avail.

"The conditions were hell," she said. "I thought when I entered public housing it would give someone like me, a single mom whose income does fluctuate, a chance to grow and get it right, so I wouldn't worry about being homeless with my kids, but it didn't work out for me."

 

Nuell is now trying to scrape together the funds for daycare so she can pursue full-time employment to get back on her feet.

"There's supposed to be places built for people like us," Nuell said.

And while some have been locked out of what was once their home, others have stayed behind to fight their evictions.

Barbara Powell, 64, said she fell behind on rent for her apartment in the Crescent Hills neighborhood of Penn Hills while helping others — including her sister, best friend and son-in-law — keep up with their bills.

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