Pittsburgh – A panel featuring economists, community leaders, and elected officials discussed solutions for issues impacting Pittsburghers this afternoon at the August Wilson Center. Nearly 100 people, including members of City Council, were on hand to hear the findings of the new report, A Pittsburgh That Works for Working People by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS). Rev. Rodney Lyde, Majestic Lane, Councilman Daniel Lavelle (D-6th), Marita Bradley, Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy, Marla Blunt, and Satya Rhodes-Conway discussed topics around affordable housing, transportation, good jobs, and civil rights.
“Pittsburgh is seeing a rebirth. While tech startups and service sector jobs are filling the void left from the steel industry, good jobs are still needed. Residents need to make a living wage that will allow them thrive. They need to have access to transportation that allows them to get to their jobs. This report provides meaningful steps that can be taken to continue allowing Pittsburgh to have sustainable growth,” said Satya Rhodes-Conway, author of the report.
Some of the key recommendations found in the report include providing access to good jobs for local residents on contracted or subsidized city projects; taking steps to preserve existing affordable housing; working with employers to establish a Transportation on Demand Management program; and creating city specific policies to improve community-police relations.
“As a native Pittsburgher, I’ve seen the change of the city landscape. I hear the demand for affordable housing and a transit system that works for all. City Council is committed to a Pittsburgh that works for all people. We know we are only as strong as our city’s residents,” said Councilman Daniel Lavelle (D-6th).
The report offers a vision that allows Pittsburgh to embrace new residents while continuing to provide much needed services for longtime residents who are often being left out.
“People are coming to Pittsburgh for business and the cost of rent seems like we are living in New York, but the income doesn’t match. People literally have to leave the city for affordable housing. It’s great we have these businesses, but new expensive housing is taking over communities where people have lived all their lives. That’s not fair,” said Marla Blunt, a Homewood resident.
Pittsburgh is seeing a surge in trendy neighborhoods, but it’s coming at the expense of many life-long residents who are now being pushed out of their homes. Last summer, residents in Penn Plaza – mostly low-income – got notices that they had to move to make way for new development. Many African Americans are also being pushed out of the city limits because they can no longer afford to live in the city. The city’s transit issues have also been well documented. With the Port Authority ending service in some areas, many residents are often forced to walk farther distances to catch a bus.
“This report highlights what many of us know, but it gives us the recommendations to make change, so Pittsburgh can be an inclusive city for all and not for some. Following these findings we can make the Steel City stronger for lifelong residents and newcomers as well,” said Sam Williamson, Western Pennsylvania Area Director, 32BJ SEIU.
The event was moderated by Brian Cook, of the Urban American Radio Networks. The entire report can be viewed here: http://www.cows.org/_data/documents/1780.pdf.
With 155,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 22,000 in Pennsylvania, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.