Uptown Lofts on Fifth is one project with two unique buildings.

In one, ACTION-Housing has developed 24 apartments for youths aging out of foster care in Pittsburgh. The one-bedroom units serve many of the approximately 300 young adults in Allegheny County who transition out of foster care and are at high risk of becoming homeless each year.

“To be able to create these beautiful new apartments for them to learn how to live independently, build life plans, and feel secure that they have a home they can count on, it doesn’t get any better than that,” says Linda Metropulos, ACTION-Housing’s director of housing and neighborhood development.

In the second building, the nonprofit developer has created 23 one- and two-bedroom apartments to meet the affordable housing needs of people earning between 50% and 60% of the area median income.

The project provides key social services to both populations, with the youths receiving more extensive services through ACTION-Housing’s MyPlace program. They receive one-on-one case management and are provided support to finish or extend their education, secure jobs, and develop important life skills. 

The development is also an innovative demonstration program for energy-efficient design. The building that’s home to the youths aging out of foster care was built using Passive House principles, including having a very secure building envelope to reduce heating and cooling needs.

The workforce housing building was constructed using more-conventional, yet still rigorous, energy standards, according to Metropulos. This approach will allow ACTION-Housing to compare and contrast the energy use and costs of the two buildings.

Built on land that was recently used as parking lots, the new development is also helping revitalize the Uptown neighborhood.

The project was financed as a single, $13.4 million development, largely through low-income housing tax credit equity from investor Bank of New York Mellon and syndicator National Equity Fund. The development was the first to receive an award of housing credits under the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s Innovation in Design category in 2013.