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Overhaul of Hays Manor housing complex focus of planning grant


By Alice Crow

During the coming months, the Allegheny County Housing Authority will be seeking community input on plans to redevelop the 138-unit Hays Manor housing complex in McKees Rocks.

A "community party" where residents can learn about Choice Neighborhoods is being held from 2 - 4 p.m. on July 23 at the former McDonald's lot on Chartiers Avenue.

This and events like it will allow community members and key stakeholders in the project to come together and discuss plans for the future of Hays Manor.

“How do we leverage this moment to achieve goals as a community? We see a real opportunity to have Choice Neighborhoods go beyond what we know of public housing,” said Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation.

The housing authority, headquartered in McKees Rocks, has been partnering with local government officials, developers and area nonprofits including Focus on Renewal, Zellous Hope Project and Vrcek's community development group to gather input.

Development of the plan is being funded by a $450,000 Choice Neighborhoods planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant was awarded late last year and was one of eight nationwide.

Hays Manor is "arranged on a super-block in an isolated, industrial area, the property fails to meet the needs of the residents and the community," according to the HUD project summary.

"[The grant] will position the community to create an ambitious plan that will revitalize Hays Manor, catalyze community improvements, and expand opportunities for residents," the summary concludes.

Preliminary discussions have included the idea to take advantage of the waterfront near Hays Manor and to create a variety of affordable housing options integrated with market rate housing in the area, according to Vrcek.

ACHA Executive Director Frank Aggazio did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.

McKees Rocks residents should expect to be asked for input on this process over the next six months, either through surveys, workshops or during events. Surveyors are already engaged with residents in Hays Manor.

A more concrete framework for the plan should emerge in early 2023. Once the plan is solidified, ACHA officials will need to apply and receive an implementation grant from HUD or find alternate ways to fund redevelopment.

The ACHA applied for the current Choice Neighborhoods planning grant three times before being awarded.


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