To understand the present, we need to know the past.  Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods have been designed, shaped and defined by their past. As we move through Pittsburgh, we are surrounded by the visions of generations of politicians, planners and investors who have shaped this city for better and worse. Our communities are a product of their careful planning and execution but also their shortcomings and biases. Housing policies of the past dictated what homes were built where, who could live in what community and how affordable the housing was, is and will be.

We tend to pay most attention to what is happening in politics at the national level but often the policies and decisions that have had the most impact in shaping our neighborhoods happen at the local level.

This timeline of housing policies in Pittsburgh outlines many of these historic issues and attempts to shed light on how the city has evolved. For instance, urban renewal projects in the Lower Hill District or in East Liberty are relevant to the most pressing issues today. Often, these policies have the biggest impact on low-income families, but every neighborhood has been designed, undermined, elevated, stimulated or reconfigured by local housing policy at one time or another.

This graphic was built by PublicSource Interactives & Design Editor Natasha Khan.

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4 replies on “How housing policy over the last century has made Pittsburgh what it is today”

  1. We were one of the first families to move into the Allegheny Dwellings about 1941 or so (I was born in 1937). There were 17 buildings, each with about 18 apartments. At the time this was a Federal Housing Project, run or overseen by the U.S. Government. Only two buildings were exclusively allotted for black occupancy. Strict racial segregation was the policy of the day and continued beyond the time I entered the U.S.M.C. in 1959.

  2. To a casual reader, it looks like a long history of government funneling money through the URA to help commercial interests demolish communities of Color.
    Just sayin’

  3. There are many that you you forgot to mention such as Federal Housing Budgets cuts started by Bill Clinton, Hope VI, Demo-Disposition, ending Project Based Section 8, one for one replacement. You also did not mention the loss of Westgate Village, Federal American Properties, Pennley Place, East Liberty Gardens in East Liberty. St. Clair Village and part of Arlington Heights.

  4. This is an interesting and helpful history. However, you missed at least one major development that was more significant than many of the more recent developments you do identify, namely, passage of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which marked the beginning of the many housing loan and grant programs that the URA has operated in low and moderate-income communities throughout the city since that time. The Community Development Block Grant essentially replaced the categorical grants that funded the Lower Hill, East Liberty, and Allegheny Center redevelopment projects.

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