Omgitsjustdae t1_j5lqp0g wrote

Reply to If only.. by metracta

A girl can dream. Instead they're gonna sink all their money into buses that don't go over traffic.


Omgitsjustdae t1_j210o1t wrote

Carlow alum here. They're both great programs. Go with the one that's going to give to the most funding. Carlow and Chatham are very similar in a lot of ways.


Omgitsjustdae OP t1_j207xdh wrote

I'm a part of a fellowship and we've been studying this very thing. We visited the Syracuse, NY Land Bank which is one of the best in the country and Pittsburgh has one of the worst and both utilized some of the same resources. There's one in the Mon Valley area but it's working on the lien portion of Land Banking.

"Typically, land banks are created as public entities by a local ordinance, pursuant to authority provided in state-enabling legislation. Land banking programs can also be developed within existing entities, such as redevelopment authorities, housing departments, or planning departments."

Center for Community Progress is an awesome resource that helps communities build land banks.


Omgitsjustdae OP t1_j1zpzra wrote

Yes indeed. Braddock had an employment training center that was helpful in getting people jobs it closed down quite some time ago and now the average household isn't making more than 30k.

That tied in with the high concentration of low income housing is preventing people from getting and keeping such jobs making no room for upward mobility.


Omgitsjustdae OP t1_j1z73yo wrote

A Tale of Three Boroughs and Fighting Blight in the Mon Valley By: Chardae’ Jones

Communities Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and North Braddock know that they have a blight problem and after years of trying to attack it one angle at a time they’re going about things with a fresh approach. North Braddock alone has over 700 blighted properties. The numbers are estimates because the abandoning of properties is continuous but that isn’t stopping these communities from trying. Realizing that Braddock, North Braddock, and East Pittsburgh are plagued with blight, poverty, and feelings of hopelessness, several joint solutions are being put in place. “We know that we must come at it from all different angles and it's not just one approach fixes all. Sure, money would solve most of the issues but after the money arrives, we still must figure out the use that best solves the problem,” North Braddock Council President Lisa Franklin-Robinson explained. “Remediating blight is a complex issue,” Braddock’s code enforcer Dave Naylor concurs. “It’s a complicated issue, the future of blight remediation should include the code enforcement department. The code enforcement team should be the first line of defense against blight when done with effective communication.” “We need to create our own program,” North Braddock Mayor Cletus Lee explained, and after speaking with Lisa I came to realize that the program that North Braddock initiated might be the thing that could remediate the blight and help to rebuild their town as well as neighboring East Pittsburgh and Braddock. The North Braddock Community Revitalization & Employment Initiative (NBCREI) developed by 15104 resident Ron Perkins, explores the possibilities and opportunities that support blight-free neighborhoods, job creation, partnerships, collaboration, and resource alignment that support residents and the community. The NBCREI and its certified training partners, and employers will provide the services necessary to help eradicate blight throughout the Borough of North Braddock.
The hope of this program, which was piloted last summer by tackling fifty lots, is threefold; to make lots attractive to developers for purchase, to make North Braddock clean and safe for the current residents, and to train a workforce that will continue this process. The program is looking for more funding because tackling blight is expensive. North Braddock recently received a $50,000 grant for the program and is looking for matching funds. While searching for funds the cleanup efforts will continue because ending blight requires a layered and continuous approach. “We are looking at blight through several lenses to find the best ways to end it. Seeing blight as a health issue, as an element of crime, poverty, mental illness, and depression. Blight impacts a lot”, said Franklin-Robinson. Blighted areas are more susceptible to rodents, crime, accidents, and lower home values just to name a few. “We will see it through any lens that we need to get funds to address this issue. It’s so much more than just demolishing buildings. The Revitalization and Workforce Development Initiative is a collaboration that aims to raise the value, morale and hope in the region and create momentum for us and for our community partners." Franklin-Robinson explained with enthusiasm as she’s a huge advocate for the program. North Braddock is also partnering with other neighborhoods like Braddock, Forest Hills, and East Pittsburgh and EOS Energy Enterprises, a company that produces zinc-powered batteries for clean energy solutions located in neighboring Turtle Creek Borough, in securing a grant through the Department of Energy to produce clean energy projects like solar farms and solar powered buildings in the community. These ideas may seem like pie in the sky but they’re very feasible and they’re not only hinting at a future that is green when it comes to energy but green when it comes to saving money in the long run. North Braddock hopes collaborations such as these will create a blueprint for other towns that need to tackle blight.

“We can’t wait for others to save us.” North Braddock Mayor Cletus Lee explained. There are so many projects happening in tandem with one another to create a better-looking Braddock and North Braddock.

“We’re tackling blighted properties where people live, first.” Council President Franklin-Robinson explained. North Braddock is also participating in a six-year neighborhood partnership program with Mon Valley Initiative that converts several blighted properties on Hawkins Ave, to new housing to keep up this momentum. The acquisition of the properties is almost complete as they are being acquired through the Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program. Down the road in Braddock, the Braddock Business Community Initiative has been in the process of blight remediation for quite some time. It made a significant impact when the borough asked Allegheny County to purchase 51 properties along Braddock Ave and relieving them of the back taxes understanding that removing the back taxes was necessary for Braddock to succeed and for the resurrection of its business district, enabling Braddock to thrive. Most of Braddock Avenue sits vacant and to avoid gentrification, the initiative put together a committee (composed of residents, business owners, and community leaders who didn’t want any of the properties) to ensure that “Braddockians” have significant input in the look and feel of the future Braddock Ave. The Allegheny County Department of Economic Development liked this idea and they’re going ahead with it to create a better Braddock. Getting these properties on the tax rolls is a win-win for all parties.

Again, Braddock and North Braddock joined with East Pittsburgh to showcase that revitalization doesn’t have to be an elected official task either. The Revitalization Fellowship by the Center for Community Progress and Grounded Strategies has a Braddock, East Pittsburgh, North Braddock (BEN) Fellowship going on right now where the fellows have traveled to different places in the country to study blight remediation, vacant spaces, and creative placemaking. The group composed of residents from different boroughs will receive a grant at the end of the fellowship and determine where and what they want to develop on the vacant land. Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and North Braddock share a lot of similarities. Braddock and East Pittsburgh are towns of fewer than 2000 residents, and North Braddock is slightly upward of 4000. Blight and poverty plague all three. Finding ways for them to lift this blight-burden together is key. Working on sharing resources and developing shared values is essential. Creating towns where code enforcement is looked at like code engagement is a great start. It’s apparent that when one of these towns thrive the others are sure to benefit. These programs, fellowships, and initiatives are what is needed to revitalize the boroughs. Using the memory of what they used to be, to develop a vision for what they can be is also important.

Hopefully many years in the near future, people will drive through these three boroughs and write a different story than the one still lingering from the past. If this current council and the community advocates have anything to say about it, that drive will look very different, with eyes fixed on the future and a hope of never having to go through such an uphill battle again.