An e-newsletter published for friends of Mon Valley Initiative | September 2021

Carnegie Library checks into
Free Press building temporarily

Essence Yancy, librarian assistant, checks in materials at Braddock Carnegie Library’s temporary location.
A massive renovation is underway at America’s first Carnegie Library, but that doesn’t mean library activities have halted.

A $15 million construction project at the Braddock Carnegie Library has led to a temporary relocation of some library services into MVI’s Free Press Building at 526 Braddock Ave. In addition, the library has increased the amount of virtual programming it offers through its Facebook page and other outlets.

Renovations at the library will include new heating and air-conditioning, new windows and doors, improved restrooms and an elevator. Work was supposed to begin last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted plans, library officials said.

Books, DVDs, music and wireless Internet hotspots may be borrowed at the temporary Free Press location, and printing and faxing services also are available. Computer time is available on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited to 30 minutes per patron, per day.

Temporary hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Clairton Inn

Exterior of new building takes shape

With the structural steel now in place, the exterior of the $16.7 million Clairton Inn development is taking shape.

According to Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer, a team of carpenters is working diligently to frame out the new construction portion of the development, which will include 49 apartments and several commercial spaces.

Exterior wall panels are arriving on-site pre-assembled and ready to set in place, Ritchie said, which is “drastically reducing time spent on framing, and helping us stay on track for completion.”

The new building is now connected to the existing Clairton Inn building via an internal corridor at the second and third floors, allowing workers and materials to move freely through all five building sections spanning the length of the development, Ritchie said.

Materials for the new roof are on-site and ready to go as soon as the framing is complete, and new windows are anticipated for delivery after Labor Day.
Mid-Mon Valley

Attorney: Old criminal records come back
to haunt many Mon Valley residents

Having a criminal record — even one that's many years old, and for a non-violent crime — blocks many Mon Valley residents from jobs, credit, housing and more.

Up to 65 percent of the people seeking help from MVI’s workforce program in the Mid-Mon Valley have had “some sort of run-in with the law,” says Jane Black, MVI employment & financial coach in the Charleroi office.

Often, the charges were relatively minor and involve past drug or alcohol abuse, but they present very real challenges for people attempting to find a new or better job, she says.

Black recently joined Brian Gorman, director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, for a video discussion — streamed Aug. 26 — about ways that old criminal records for non-violent offenses can be expunged or sealed. Black and Gorman also discussed the new Washington County Pardon Project.

You can see the video on Facebook or MVI’s YouTube channel.
Workforce Development & Financial Coaching

Success Story: Paul

“Paul” came to MVI after he had been retired for 15 years. He had always been careful with his money, but he began to encounter difficulties when the cost of living kept going up and his fixed income did not.

Paul was interested in janitorial work or possibly a driving job. He and his MVI employment & financial coach worked tirelessly to complete employment applications. He also traveled around the area completing paper applications on his own.

But many employers only accept applications submitted online. Paul doesn’t have a computer, and says he “wouldn’t know how to use it if he had one.”

With his permission, MVI created an email address for him and began helping him apply to jobs he otherwise could not.

After working temporarily at two jobs that weren’t good fits, Paul was hired as a substitute custodian at a nearby school district and has been working steadily for a month. Now, the school district would like to use him as a van driver when he’s not working as a custodian.

Our workforce team says Paul has been a joy to work with. He demonstrates that along with the right attitude and motivation, working together makes good things happen!
  • Do you know someone who could benefit from our employment and financial coaching process? Call us at 412-464-4000, ext. 4000, or 724-565-8040, ext. 1; email; text “workforce” and your name to 412-545-3181; or visit our website.

Civic Plaza re-dedicated to local resident

Braddock celebrated its community day on Aug. 13 with food, music and the re-dedication of Braddock Civic Plaza to the late Clara E. Davis, a lifelong resident of the borough who volunteered in service of many local causes. A new sign explains why the plaza has been named for Davis: “Through her work in childcare and numerous volunteer efforts, her kindness and generosity had an immeasurable impact on the people around her. Ms. Davis was a woman of great faith and a friend to many. She served as a sentinel for the community of Braddock.”

Developed by MVI in conjunction with Braddock Borough, the civic plaza opened in 2018 on a portion of the former site of Braddock General Hospital.

Experts: COVID-19 vaccinations effective against ‘Delta’ strain

Existing COVID-19 vaccines are offering protection against the “Delta” variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, health experts said, and the shots are now widely available in our area.

Although there are cases of “breakthrough infections” — people who have contracted COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated — state and federal health officials said those infections remain relatively rare, and cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated patients are less severe than those in people who are unvaccinated.

The Allegheny County Health Department is currently offering the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine and Moderna vaccines for people age 18 and older, and the Pfizer vaccine for people ages 12 and older.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free, regardless of health insurance or ability to pay, and are available at Giant Eagle, Rite-Aid and Walmart pharmacies and many other locations. In addition, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and local libraries have been offering “pop-up” walk-in vaccination clinics.

MVI coaches helping residents access rent relief programs

During the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown, many people fell behind on their rent.

Now, with the end of eviction moratoriums looming, MVI’s employment & financial coaches are busy helping tenants access rent relief programs, says T. Charles Howell IV, director of workforce development and financial coaching.

Howell recently spoke to WTAE-TV reporter Chandi Chapman about services available through MVI.

If you know someone who has fallen behind on their rent, and who needs help applying for rent or utility relief, call our workforce program at 412-464-4000, extension 4000 in Allegheny County, or 724-565-8040, extension 2, in the Mid-Mon Valley, Washington or Westmoreland counties.

Monessen bungalow featured on HGTV show

A national TV show devoted to fixing up affordable older houses recently turned its spotlight on Monessen.

A few months ago, the hosts of “Cheap Old Houses,” which airs on cable’s HGTV network, toured an Arts & Crafts-style bungalow in the city, Mayor Matt Shorraw said on Facebook.

The home is featured in a new episode titled “Cheap Old Farmhouse Dreams,” which will re-air on HGTV on Sept. 7.

Shorraw has been championing the city’s program to get vacant homes off of the delinquent tax rolls and into the hands of new homeowners.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this and am excited for Monessen to be shown in a positive light on national TV,” he said. “I believe this will help us address our blight issue by getting even more people to acquire vacant and old houses.”

Now hiring: Custodian

MVI is seeking a custodian to help care for our growing rental portfolio.

The custodian will be responsible, under the direction of the senior construction manager, for the overall cleanliness and maintenance of common areas and outside exteriors.

Essential duties and responsibilities include vacuuming, sweeping and mopping floors; wiping down and cleaning walls and baseboards; dusting door frames and corners; cleaning windows; and removing trash from assigned areas.

Applicants should have access to a reliable vehicle, the ability to follow written and oral instructions, and good time-management skills.

To apply, contact Clark Webb, MVI real-estate portfolio manager.

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