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.

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

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