Where credit is due
Frequent readers of this blog--I think there may be enough to field a softball team--know I bash the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority with regularity. So it's only fair that I now praise the URA for a project that I think worthy of its investment--residential redevelopment in Homewood. It's a grass-roots project that is spearheaded by a community organization, Building United of Southwestern Pennsylvania, which purchased the site of a former public housing complex in order to build single-family homes. The mortgages will be partially subsidized by the URA, and representatives of Building United say more people have been pre-qualified for mortgages than the number of homes that are available. (The URA also gave the organization a grant to tear down the public housing complex, and Building United lined up private financing for construction of new single-family homes.)
This is the formula for successful urban renewal that is described in the book "Comeback Cities". The book demonstrates that neighborhood organizations, through a mix of private and public investment (but acting with relative autonomy from government officials), can revitalize low-income communities and rebuild social capital. We'll see how it works in Homewood.