Blight

Government & Politics
5:23 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

With New Tools to Fight Blight, Communities Look to Arm Themselves to Reclaim Neighborhoods

With the heavily boarded up community of Homestead as a backdrop, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania released a toolkit to fight blight today.

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Community
3:30 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Local Group Reclaims Vacant Land Through Micro-Grants and Education

Six months ago, the vacant lot next door to Linda Piso’s house in Knoxville was overgrown with weeds and was a haven for drug activity.

But Piso has since transformed the lot into a community garden.

“Right now I’m picking cucumbers,” Piso said on Saturday. “My garden is completely planted. I have lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, and soon I’ll have a watermelon.”

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Overshadowed by the Budget
9:14 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Bill Would Give Counties More Help With Blight

Special series: This week we're exploring legislative action taken recently in Harrisburg on important bills that were overshadowed by the passage of the state budget.

Most cities are plagued by blighted and abandoned properties, but who is responsible to demolish them after the owner is nowhere to be found? Senate bill 1442 could solve these issues with a fee on foreclosed properties.

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City Government
4:19 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Tackling Pittsburgh’s Blight Problem, One Small Project at a Time

Volunteers beautify a vacant lot in Lawrenceville as part of the city's Love Your Block program.
Credit Photo courtesy Lawrenceville United

Blight is a major problem in Pittsburgh, and the city is pursuing several big-picture initiatives to deal with it.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:21 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Community Design for Changing Demographics

Plant life has overtaken much of a property on Garfield's Brown Way.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA


“If a city were a human body, then blight is a disease.”

Like many other older industrial cities, the Pittsburgh region has its share of blight. According to the most recent data from the 2010 census, there are more than 50 thousand vacant houses in Allegheny County. For more than a century, federal, state and city governments have tried to address the issue.

90.5 WESA’s Larkin Paige-Jacobs recently reported on a new generation of tools is being used to try and clean up blighted neighborhoods.

Key to this fight is Land Bank legislation which Mayor Bill Peduto urged city council to pass in order to expedite the claiming of blighted and abandoned property.

"The land bank allows the city to quickly acquire and bundle tax delinquent properties to sell to home developers, rather than the piecemeal and time-consuming approach neighborhood development corporations had taken." 

Beyond Blight...

In our quest to battle blight, how can neighborhood improvements accommodate the current residents and the next generation? How can we revitalize in a way that's adaptive to changing demographics? The Design Center helps local neighborhoods create community driven development plans.

We talked about this with Chris Koch, interim CEO of the Design Center, along with project consultants Rob Pfaffmann, an architect and designer, and Todd Poole, Managing principal and president of 4Ward Planning.

Chris Koch explained how the Design Center balances the developer’s desire for a return on their investment while not driving people out of their communities.

“We want developers in our communities, but there’s anxiety that comes with development. How do we help the communities navigate that? Everything has to be a compromise. When its developer driven, the community doesn't get to be part of the conversation. So it’s finding a way for both groups to come to the table and work with our designers in the city of Pittsburgh to find solutions that work for everybody.”

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Community
6:55 am
Fri May 30, 2014

How Neighborhoods Are Using New Tools In The Fight Against Old Blight

A blighted property sits on Kincaid Street in Garfield. According to census data, there are more than 50,000 vacant houses in Allegheny County.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Like many older industrial cities, the Pittsburgh region has its share of blight. According to the most recent data from the 2010 census, there are more than 50,000 vacant houses in Allegheny County.

For more than a century, federal, state and city governments have tried to address the issue. Today, a new generation of tools is being used in attempts to clean up blighted neighborhoods.

If a city were a human body, then blight is a disease, according to Aggie Brose, deputy director of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation.

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City Government
7:50 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Land Bank Legislation Passes in Pittsburgh City Council

Nearly 8,000 parcels of land are estimated to be abandoned in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Land Bank is meant to streamline the process of selling such properties and putting them back to productive use.
Credit Flickr user MichaelGoodin

After three months of community meetings, disagreements, and compromises, Pittsburgh City Council passed Councilwoman Deb Gross’s land bank legislation Monday morning.

Councilmen Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle have had the greatest concerns about the land bank proposal, but both voted in favor of the legislation.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:11 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

City Councilors O'Connor and Gross Lay Out Pittsburgh's New Land Bank Plan

This abandoned house is just one example of the properties that the Pittsburgh land banks plan would hope to re-utilize for a new purpose.
Credit Peter Pawlowski / Flickr

Earlier this year District 7 Councilor Deb Gross introduced legislation to develop a Land Bank in Pittsburgh. The system would operate as a repository for properties that often have little prospect of redevelopment.

District 5 Councilor Corey O' Connor is a supporter of the concept. He and Councilor Gross say the idea is to create a system to get abandoned properties publicly inventoried and marketed for re-use by neighbors, community groups, developers or realtors.

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City Government
4:59 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Local Real Estate Investor Proposes Solution to Urban Blight

Around 200 people spoke at last week’s public hearing on Councilwoman Deb Gross’s land bank legislation, according to Gross’s chief of staff Nathaniel Hansen.

At least one of those people, Josh Caldwell of the Pittsburgh Real Estate Investors Association, has gone public with his proposal for fighting urban blight.

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City Government
5:47 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Concerns About Land Bank Legislation Aired in City Council

Pittsburgh City Council had their first opportunity to discuss Deb Gross’s proposed land bank legislation as a group on Wednesday. The bill was first introduced on Jan. 14.

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Community
3:41 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Walking Tour of Garfield Highlights Struggles, Opportunities

Marquise Williams, president of the Garfield chapter of Action United, said there are numerous struggles and opportunities throughout the neighborhood.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The newly-formed Garfield chapter of Action United led state and local government representatives on a walking tour Thursday of the neighborhood that, like others in Pittsburgh, is struggling with the effects of blight.

“Safety, roads, sidewalks, things for the kids to do,” said Marquise Williams, chapter president, “I feel like if kids had more to do a lot of the crime and a lot of the stuff would decline because there’s more activities for the kids to do.”

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Community
1:51 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Report: Blighted Properties Costing Allegheny County Millions of Dollars Each Year

Blighted properties not only are an eyesore for neighborhoods and communities, but also they cost homeowners and local governments millions of dollars, according to a new report from Delta Development Group Inc.

“The annual impact of these problem properties for our 41 communities is actually over $254 million a year, which is enormous,” said An Lewis, executive director of the Steel Valley Council of Governments, one of the groups that commissioned the report.

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Community
3:30 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Burgess: Blight in Homewood Could Spread

More than 40 percent of land parcels and 30 percent of houses in Homewood are vacant. That’s according to research from the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Urban and Social Research.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in Homewood at the Carnegie Library to address the issue of blight, demolition of housing and land banking in that neighborhood. Pittsburgh Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess is hosting the forum, and he said there has been talk for years about addressing the problem of vacant and abandoned properties, but there’s been little action.

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Blight
2:32 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Allegheny County Seeks to Fight Blight with Recovery Program

Allegheny County is hoping to fight blight by offering as much as a $3,000 discount to anyone looking to take ownership and improve abandon properties.

The Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program usually charges individuals or entities that want to acquire the properties the assessed value of the parcel plus about $3,000 in fees. Between now and July 15 the county will waive between $1,600 and all of the fees.

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