A woman jogs along East Carson Street in the South Side on March 20. (Photo by Kimberly Rowen/PublicSource)

24 PA counties can begin reopening; Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald hopes Pittsburgh area will follow soon

On Friday, May 1, Gov. Tom Wolf announced 24 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will move from the red to yellow phase in the state’s three-phase matrix for restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

None of the counties moving to the yellow phase are within Southwestern Pennsylvania. As of Friday, Allegheny County, with a population of about 1.2 million, has reported 1,319 cases of COVID-19. In this area, state health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine cited population density as a particular reason for not moving to the yellow phase. In an interview after the governor’s announcement, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he wasn’t aware population density was a concern. “I was actually a little surprised.

Cathy Welsh, 44, of Turtle Creek, lost her son to gun violence in November 2018. The mural (left) in the Greater Valley Community Services in Braddock depicts teenagers and young adults from Woodland Hills who have also died due to gun violence since 2005. (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource

Tree of Life trauma victims may find allies in neighborhoods experiencing chronic gun violence

Experts in trauma care differentiate between sudden violent events, such as the Tree of Life shooting, and chronic forms of violence, such as war zones or ongoing gun violence within neighborhoods. In Pittsburgh, chronic gun violence occurs in some neighborhoods, but not others, and that trauma is disproportionately carried by the city's black communities.

Don Carter (left), director of the Remaking Cities Institute, and Alan Mallach, an expert in community development. (Photo by Mark Kramer/PublicSource)

What’s even more alarming than gentrification? One researcher urges cities like Pittsburgh to take a broader view.

Community development guru Alan Mallach points to the rise of “eds and meds” and the influx of young, educated professionals into urban areas as major trends that have transformed Pittsburgh and other American cities over the last two decades, bringing investment and jobs to many declining neighborhoods. “Taken as a whole, American cities, particularly older cities, are doing better than at any point really since the 1960s,” he said at a lecture Tuesday evening at Carnegie Mellon University. “This is an amazing revival, and it’s worth celebrating.”

He’s quick to note, though, that such progress is only half the story: “At the same time, for people who live in those cities, more of them are living in poverty, more of them are living in substandard housing and in neighborhoods that do not provide a decent quality of life. At the same time that our cities are drawing thousands of jobs and billions in new investment, more people live in these cities who lack jobs and opportunities.”

In Pittsburgh, young professionals are moving into such neighborhoods as Lawrenceville, East Liberty and the South Side, driving a surge in development, while long-time residents are leaving. Fewer people are living in predominantly white working-class and black neighborhoods, such as Homewood and the Hill District, and those who do are, on average, lower income and older.

Rev. Shanea Leonard, the pastor of Judah Fellowship Christian Church, sings along with the congregation during worship. Anita Levels directs the worshipers in song. (Photo by Terry Clark/PublicSource)

“Absolutely and unabashedly welcoming”: How some Pittsburgh faith communities embrace LGBT worshippers

After former public defender Turahn Jenkins announced in early July that he would challenge Stephen A. Zappala Jr. in a bid to become Allegheny County’s next district attorney, Jenkins quickly came under fire for his views on sexuality and gender identity. He is affiliated with the Bible Chapel, a church that teaches that homosexuality is sinful, a view that Jenkins reportedly said he shares. Because of his stance, many community members, including leaders from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] community,* were not satisfied with Jenkins’ stated commitment to inclusive and unbiased law enforcement. They asked Jenkins to end his campaign, but he’s chosen to remain in the race. The election is scheduled for 2019.