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Category Archives: Mon Valley Initiative

Mon Valley Initiative is a non-profit community and economic development coalition. We work to meet this goal by renovating and constructing high quality, affordable housing and assisting communities to develop and maintain their main street districts.

New Homeowners Thanks to MVI

Mon Valley Initiative classes helps couple into Swissvale dream house

This past September, a young couple began researching the best ways to improve their credit and purchase a home.  For them, a few hours of mouse clicking and web surfing paid off.  Eight months after first exploring the website of the Mon Valley Initiative, they’re moved into a four bedroom, fully renovated house on Manor Avenue in Swissvale.

“We were in a housing arrangement we really didn’t like and knew our credit needed work,” said Marieke Johnson, a social worker.  “It was rough, but now we own a house we can be proud of that’s costing us less each month than what we used to pay in rent.  We couldn’t be happier.”

Funded partly through grant monies received through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the MVI housing counseling program has helped more than 1,300 families become homeowners since 2005.  The Homestead non-profit conducts group presentations as well as individual counseling to promote home ownership.

It was the telephone call that Johnson and her partner, Richard Wertz, made after their last mouse click that connected them to MVI’s NeighborWorks® certified housing counselor, Mike Mauer.   “They were incredibly motivated,” said Mauer.  “We initially strategized an action plan that if they stuck to it and retired their past due debt and stabilized their expenses, they’d be able to qualify for a home mortgage within about 12 to 18 months.  Marieke and Richard actually had their mortgage pre-approval in hand five months and two weeks after we first met.  I was really impressed by their effort.”

In addition to the advice they received about how to improve their credit, the young couple also learned about real estate development programs that offer special incentives to low-to-moderate income buyers.  Marieke and Richard’s house on Manor Avenue is part of a neighborhood revitalization strategy funded by the HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program in Swissvale that is being led through the efforts of SEDCO, MVI, Swissvale Borough, Allegheny County Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

The Manor Avenue house features a kitchen with an island, as well as a third floor master suite with a private bath, a great neighborhood view and skylight.  A full front porch adds to the curb appeal.

Perhaps equally attractive is the couple’s finance package.  Incentives that included tier financing of soft mortgages available through MVI’s homeownership program meant nothing was required out of pocket at closing.  A one year home warranty also sweetened the deal.

“I was really impressed with how the Mon Valley Initiative was able to walk us through every step of the way,” said Ms. Johnson.  “Any questions we had, they were able to answer.”

Those seeking counseling as Johnson and Wertz did have the opportunity to do so at MVI’s next scheduled homebuyers’ workshop Saturday, June 16.  Scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the MVI’s offices at 305 East 8th Avenue in Homestead, topics covered at the seminar will include budgeting to purchase a home, shopping for a home loan, closing procedures and home maintenance.  Attendees will also have the opportunity to schedule face-to-face appointments with MVI’s housing counselor and get information on upcoming MVI home construction.

A light breakfast and lunch as well as free parking will be provided.  For more information about the non-profit agency’s housing counseling program and registration for the June 16 event, call MVI’s Housing Counselor Mike Mauer at: 412-464-4000 x 4008 or visit

MVI Helps Former Marine Purchase a New Home

Mon Valley Initiative and SEDCO help couple into their dream house in Swissvale Finding the perfect home is a challenge for most newly married couples.  And lining up the proper financing package can be difficult at any stage of life.  But thanks to the help of the Mon Valley Initiative and the Swissvale Economic Development… Continue Reading

MVI Helps Turn Fire Tragedy Into Home Ownership

Mon Valley Initiative Community Development Partners Help Turn Fire Tragedy Into Home Ownership This past November, a single mother with two children was forced out of her row house in Rankin by a devastating fire.  Her home was one of 10 on Mound Street that was damaged by flames and smoke. Frantic for assistance, she… Continue Reading

Taste of Swissvale House Tour – June 26th, 2011

Flavor of Our Neighborhood  Join the Swissvale Economic Development Corporation in celebrating the completion of the 2nd phase of the Kopp Glass Gateway Project while sampling beer, wine, and food from around Swissvale.   The house tours will start at the park along Park Avenue between Palmer Street & Monongahela Avenue.  Five newly renovated and recently… Continue Reading

Homebuyer Education Workshop

If you are interested in buying a home, you are invited by the Mon Valley Initiative to get answers to these common homeownership questions: What home price can I afford? What if I have credit problems? What if I had a bankruptcy? What if I have no credit? What are closing costs? How do I… Continue Reading

SPARC Honored as 2011 Peace Partner

The Southwestern PA Re-entry Coalition (SPARC) was honored on Wednesday as a 2011 Peace Partner to the Center for Victims of Violence and Crime (CVVC). Housed within the Mon Valley Initiative (MVI), SPARC was selected for the Peace Partner award because of its efforts to coordinate resources for individuals with criminal records.  In 2010, MVI… Continue Reading