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Healthy Neighborhood Action Plan Launches to Support Equitable Development Efforts in the Upper Hill

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On July 24th, Neighborhood Allies co-convened the Schenley Heights equitable development kick-off meeting with our neighborhood based partners – the Schenley Heights Collaborative, the Hill CDC, Amani Christian CDC and FOCUS Pittsburgh at the Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church in the Upper Hill.

The kick-off gathering starts the formation of a multi-sector collaborative comprised of residents, community based organizations, public agencies, nonprofit institutions and private entities to support the equitable development efforts in the Hill District. In attendance were representatives from the Office of Mayor Peduto, the Housing Authority, Neighborhood Legal Services, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh and Dollar Bank. Through a comprehensive Healthy Neighborhoods Framework approach that addresses the dynamics of both people and place, this public-private partnership will concentrate its initial equitable revitalization efforts within the Schenley Heights neighborhood of the Hill District.

As an ally of the Hill District, our intent is to support the great work that is already underway and to build upon the existing assets of the community. Throughout the implementation stages of this initiative, Neighborhood Allies will serve as a partner and technical assistance provider by:

  • Acting as convener to support the Greater Hill District neighborhood vision and strategy
  • Supporting and connecting aligned activities and broader partnerships
  • Establishing shared measurements
  • Building public will and social capital
  • Introducing best practices and serve as thought leaders on policy 
  • coordination
  • Mobilizing Complete Capital (financial, human, social and intellectual) for high-impact neighborhood projects

The July 24th conversation centered on strategies to engage existing residents, boost homeownership rates, stabilize homes, leverage additional resources, widen the capacity of neighborhood CDCs, connect residents to promising employment opportunities and preserve the African-American identity, legacy and culture of the community.

Jason Tigano, a contributing consultant towards this effort presented a market value analysis map of the neighborhood and facilitated a conversation as to how the market potential of Schenley Heights can potentially be harnessed and used as a means to guide development in a way that achieves the community’s stated objectives of revitalization, anti-displacement and inclusion. It was emphasized during the discussion that particular attention be provided towards the seniors living in the community and that the collaborative begin to tackle issues of tangled titles in the neighborhood.

Guided by our Healthy Neighborhoods framework, here is a sample list of potential strategies to be deployed to achieve results:

Restore Market Confidence

  • Sustainable homeownership pre and post purchase training and support that provides direct access to a network of knowledgeable credit repair specialists, lenders, realtors and other homeownership support agencies to walk program participants through the affordable home-buying process step-by-step.
  • Shared Real Estate Talent Program: Neighborhood Allies and LISC currently operate an acquisition/rehab program for affordable housing projects which couples financing with deep technical assistance.
  • Support the Greater Hill District Non-Displacement Strategies intended to maintain affordability and prevent displacement by supporting the economic self-sufficiency and housing stability of existing residents.

Improve Quality of Life

  • Support the maintenance and remediation of vacant lots to improve the physical conditions of the neighborhood and health and well-being of residents partly through the deployment of the Pittsburgh Mobile Toolbox. The Toolbox is a first-of-its-kind resource in Allegheny County that is provided to equip residents and community groups with the tools, resources and expertise needed to tackle blight and vacancy at the neighborhood scale.
  • Enable residents to make critical home repairs to improve the health, safety and appearance of their property to help increase property values.
  • Establish a clear presence of the public workforce development system through which local residents can access career and training opportunities as well as supportive services and, ultimately, gain viable employment.

Promote and Celebrate the Neighborhood’s Image

  • Build upon the Hill District’s African-American Cultural Legacy to further integrate and embed the arts into neighborhood life and public spaces.

Enhance Community Ownership

  • Identify and connect neighborhood assets and continue to build social connection and new leaders within the community through the Love My Neighbor! grant program and other civic engagement initiatives in the neighborhood.

This initiative is supported by the KeyBank Foundation and PNC Charitable Trust. For more information, please feel free to contact Shad Henderson, our Director of Community Partnerships and Investments at shad@neighborhoodallies.org.

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