Pittsburgh Revitalization Plans Stuck on Blight

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published an investigation of the city's efforts to buy and rehabilitate vacant properties in the troubled neighborhood of Homewood.

2 minute read

February 11, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Pittsburgh has provided a model for contemporary urban revitalization, but is still struggling to deal with vacant properties and blight in the neighborhood of Homewood. | Mihai_Andritoiu / Shutterstock

Ashley Murray and Joel Jacobs provide in-depth reporting on the city of Pittsburgh's efforts to revitalize the area of the city known as Homewood, "long plagued by blight and crime."

The city has spent $3.6 million buying vacant properties in treasurer's sales over unpaid taxes, "but dozens of the homes remain eyesores and, in some cases, the target of code violations by the city’s own inspectors," according to the article.

"The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette examined the records of 133 buildings owned by the city — including houses and storefronts — and found inspectors slapped violations on nearly 60% of them, including homes that were not only unfit for human habitation, but could place people in imminent danger," reports Murray and Jacobs.

While property owners can be punished for code violations, the city is not subject to the same enforcement.

The program of acquiring and improving vacant and blighted structures is taking on new importance as community groups have been pushing for "one of the most ambitious plans in the neighborhood’s history to promote green space, affordable housing and a business corridor to help an area that has undergone dramatic changes."

The city's vacant properties program is intended to "pave the way for development and the potential for new homes, parks and stores" under a land bank run by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. "But so far, most of the properties have not been turned over to public agencies or private investors since the city ramped up acquisitions a decade ago."

The source article includes infographics, more data, and specific examples of blight among the properties acquired by the city.

Saturday, January 30, 2021 in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Empty parking garage at night with yellow lines marking spots and fluorescent lighting

Rethinking the Role of Parking in the American City

In cities big and small, the tide is turning against sprawling parking lots, car-centric development, and minimum parking mandates.

March 16, 2023 - The New York Times

A futuristic version of New York City, with plants growing neatly on top of modern skycrapers.

Friday Eye Candy: 20 AI-Generated Cityscapes

AI-generated images are creating new landscapes and cityscapes, capable of inspiring awe or fear.

March 17, 2023 - Chris Steins via Medium

Rendering of Baylor Scott & White Health Administrative Center in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

A Dallas Architect Designs Statement Buildings With a Purpose

The Dallas Morning News’ architecture critic profiles one of the city’s most important current architects.

31 minutes ago - The Dallas Morning News

A mountain range at sunset appears in the background of this photo, with cacti in the foreground.

Biden Designates a New National Monument in West Texas

The Castner Range National Monument in West Texas is the second of two new national monuments announced by President Joe Biden this week.

2 hours ago - The White House

View of street in Chinatown, San Francisco with cars parked along curb and red Chinese lanterns hanging above street

Study: Autonomous Cars Won’t Solve the Parking Problem

In hyper-dense cities where incentives to reduce car use and eliminate parking are already high, mass adoption of AVs won’t significantly reduce parking demand.

4 hours ago - Streetsblog USA

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.