Rich joined PublicSource in 2020. He reported for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2005 through early 2020, leading projects on child poverty, the opioid epidemic, communities with concentrations of people accessing mental health services, and the federal use of confidential informants. He has covered the federal court and city government beats, and was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting, for reporting on the Tree of Life massacre. Rich has also worked for the Pittsburgh City Paper and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He wrote a 2004 book about the subprime mortgage industry, called "American Nightmare: Predatory Lending and the Foreclosure of the American Dream." His first journalistic foray was a column on the challenge of finding vegetarian food in Pittsburgh restaurants, published in 1994. Rich graduated from George Washington University, and he and his family can often be found on Western Pennsylvania bike trails.
The Devines are only moving one block. But for Jasmine and her three daughters, the impending relocation within a little square called Enright Court is a big jump, and not just because they’ll have a fourth bedroom, plus a bigger yard. They’ll finally own a townhouse, rather than renting. With that, they’ll be gaining some control over their destinies in East Liberty, a neighborhood where demolitions and rising rents have torn many families out by the roots. “I’m building a legacy for them,” said Devine, 32, as she stood in her current driveway with her eldest daughter, Jah’Niya, 13.
As conversations heat up over development plans for the Lower Hill District, one voice is drawing religious history into the spotlight. Bethel AME Church, founded in 1808, was once a thriving congregation and center of learning and social activism. As part of the Lower Hill redevelopment project of the 1950s, the City of Pittsburgh seized the church by eminent domain and demolished it, despite eminent domain laws excluding churches from their reach.
The human and economic costs of eviction far outweigh the price tag of helping people stay housed, according to a report released by The Pittsburgh Foundation*, which lays out a potential path to fewer landlord-tenant cases. The foundation's report comes at a time when federal and local curbs on evictions have pushed landlord filings against tenants well below pre-pandemic norms. Foundation officials contend that the heightened attention to the effects of eviction spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic creates an opportunity to change a system that upends the lives of thousands of Allegheny County families each year. "We have increased knowledge and awareness,'' said Michael Yonas, the foundation's vice president for public health, research and learning. “We’ve had political and legislative action that has helped to protect people during COVID." He added that the respite in filings creates a window of opportunity to improve the system before any return to normal levels of eviction filings.
A change to an obscure boundary that may benefit the Penguins’ Hill District development hopes crossed procedural lines with important assists from the United Steelworkers union and others, but not from a neighborhood group that fears a resulting loss in federal funds.
Barber sat in her living room, reading aloud the reasons outlined in the landlord’s complaint: “‘Property owner’s right to renovate is being impeded. Additionally, we have multiple issues with Section 8.’”
Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email email@example.com with questions, tips or story ideas. 03/30/21: Attorney explains bid for conservatorship of 97 properties
A former City of Pittsburgh attorney who has filed an ambitious conservatorship petition said that it was driven by a developer’s desire to improve a neglected part of the North Side amid slow progress by a community group and government officials. Dan Friedson, who was an assistant city solicitor from 2014 through late 2019, filed a March 5 petition on behalf of East Allegheny-based October Development, seeking conservatorship over 97 properties in and around that neighborhood. Of the properties, 29 are owned by the city, two by the Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA], eight by the Community Association of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown [CASGED] and the rest by an assortment of individuals and apparent businesses or nonprofit entities.
Pennsylvania’s anti-blight conservatorship law, which has become a tool of aggressive developers, should be amended to stop uses that some neighborhood development pros have characterized as abusive, according to testimony at a Friday hearing of Democratic state lawmakers. The General Assembly created the conservatorship process in 2008 as a way to allow for the court-monitored takeover of abandoned buildings by responsible owners. While conservatorship is technically stewardship of the property, it can lead to ownership. Nonprofit organizations like East Liberty Development Inc. have used the mechanism to fight blight. But the law “has also been criticized for taking away the due process of property owners, allowing land developers to obtain properties cheaply, making a profit and gentrifying neighborhoods in the process,” said Sen. Katie Muth, D-Chester, Montgomery and Berks counties.
Long, dry grass crunched under Angela Williams’ workout shoes as she walked into the field she’s pondered for 32 years. From this flat expanse in Perry South, you can drive seven minutes south and join the North Shore’s bustle, or seven minutes north for the quiet of Riverview Park. There’s a playground — empty on this warm March day — just a block down North Charles Street. “There could be people playing here, kids playing here, families sitting out on their front porch, their back porch, enjoying this beautiful day,” said Williams, who leads the Charles Street Area Council and the nonprofit Charles Street Area Corp. The field Williams has lived above since 1989 is flanked by a few remaining houses.
A three-hour-plus community meeting involving the Penguins’ development team and the Hill District’s leading development group, held Monday, did not yield a breakthrough. A day after the first public discussion of a new term sheet offered by the Penguins’ chosen developer, Hill Community Development Corp. President and CEO Marimba Milliones questioned whether the offer amounts to much more than “business as usual.”
On the other side, developer Buccini/Pollin Group [BPG] co-principal Chris Buccini, whose firm is leading the billion-dollar rebuild of the former Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill, called Milliones’ public characterizations of its plans “incredibly disingenuous.”
Both sides agreed that they’d keep talking in advance of City Planning Commission consideration of BPG’s plans for a 26-story First National Bank [FNB] tower near the Hill’s border with Downtown. A commission vote could come next month. While the Hill CDC’s sign-off on the $230 million tower isn’t required, the commission typically weighs community group input heavily in its decisions
Milliones pledged to meet with the developer soon “to nail down what’s real and what’s theoretical” in the term sheet.