Who is ‘the community?’ Penn Plaza group challenges early stages of East Liberty URA project

The Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA] presented three potential designs Thursday night for an East Liberty development meant in part to bring some former residents of the demolished Penn Plaza back to their neighborhood. But some attendees raised pointed questions about the community input process, which they felt excluded them. “The problem is ‘the community’ is the Village Collaborative,” said Celeste Scott, housing organizer at Pittsburgh United, referring to a community group that has had early involvement in the URA’s vetting process. “That is the problem that they’re not giving an answer to.”

A group of former Penn Plaza residents and community activists questioned why the URA had chosen Village Collaborative, a community group unveiled last year by the HELP Initiative. The collaborative is made up of faith leaders in the East End.

A person walks along Hamilton Avenue in Homewood on Dec. 21, 2017. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Pittsburgh is hoping to preserve many of the low-income Bethesda-Homewood housing units

After weeks of scrambling to assist the tenants, city officials and local community groups may have hashed out a plan to salvage the units that can be rehabilitated and to keep HUD’s funding eligible at the properties — or at least within the city of Pittsburgh. So it’s possible, though not certain, that tenants like Makeela and her dad could stay in their homes.