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Pittsburgh reggae festival to support Black first-time homeowners

A man in a tie-dye shirt raises a drumstick into the air while on stage in front of a crowd.
Photo courtesy of Piatt Family Foundation
Derek Waksman playing the drums with band KBong and artist Johnny Cosmic at the 2022 Rock, Reggae and Relief benefit music festival.

The Piatt Family Foundation’s Rock, Reggae, and Relief Festival takes place on Forbes Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh this weekend, promising music and a charitable cause to attendants.

The festival lineup includes local and national rock and reggae bands Sublime with Rome, Slightly Stoopid, Tropidelic, Roots of Creation, Keystone Vibe, and Fubar.

The “relief” part of this year’s festival benefits Catapult Greater Pittsburgh.

This is the 6th annual Rock, Reggae, and Relief in Pittsburgh. Last year’s festival brought $50,000 to Café Momentum, a restaurant that employs teens involved in the justice system. This year the Piatt Foundation wanted to help an organization even more aligned with their own mission, according to administrative director Molly Onufer.

“We’re a real estate company,” Onufer explained. “So we really wanted to do something that focused on real estate and our belief that everyone in Pittsburgh deserves to own a home.”

Catapult Greater Pittsburgh is an organization that helps systematically disadvantaged Black communities build generational wealth and financial security. Executive director Tammy Thompson says they do this through two main vehicles: first time homeownership and entrepreneurship.

“Catapult is just like its title,” Thompson added. “We want to catapult people into the next level of their lives. And sometimes people just need a little bit of help, just a little bit of support to reach those goals.”

Catapult provides various services like trauma-informed financial counseling and group education. The funds from the festival, however, will support their Next Steps Fund.

The Next Steps Fund is a program that helps eligible, Black, first-time homeowners pay for down payments or closing costs in Allegheny County.

“Those folks who have worked really, really hard, who have attended our workshops and have learned and have done the work to prepare themselves to be homeowners, but just are struggling to come up with $5,000 or $7,000 for a down payment and closing costs. We don’t think that’s enough of a reason for people to miss out on the opportunity of homeownership,” Thompson said.

The organization helped 42 Pittsburgh families buy homes between 2021 and 2022.

“People are not sitting around at home eating bon bons with their feet up, waiting on someone to take care of them,” said Thompson. “The people that we work with are hard working people who have a dream for themselves and their families, and sometimes they just need a little bit of help to get there.”