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Blight Working Group Brings Residents Resources To Revitalize Empty Lots

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 | WESA.FM | October 7th, 2016 | Read the full article

A blight working group is hosting a workshop to give city residents the tools they need to buy and fix up abandoned properties, like this house in Homewood. PHOTO CREDIT SARAH KOVASH / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has nearly 25,000 vacant lots, according to GTECH Strategies.

GTECH Project Manager James Snow said blight is hard to define, but it could be an empty lot or an abandoned house.

“Blight for us really looks at those critical problem properties that are overgrown or not be managed and have really become a nuisance for the community,” he said.

GTECH, or Growth Through Energy and Community Health, has mapped those vacant lots with help from the city’s GIS office and real estate records..

The Pittsburgh Blight Working Group is a collaboration between the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the city, Neighborhood Allies, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, the Design Center and GTECH.

The group is hosting a boot camp on Friday and Saturday to empower residents with resources to identify and revitalize blight in their neighborhoods.

Bethany Davidson, manager of land recycling for the URA, said it can be complicated to find effective ways to overcome blight. She said that’s because every property has its own story and history, with unique legal, economic or environmental issues.

The boot camp is looking to residents to identify nuisance properties and best options for revitalization.

“You know the property next door,” she said. “You know where the problem properties, or the blighted properties are on your block and they affect you on a day-to-day level. And you might more passion and more ability to focus on revitalizing or limiting the blight on that property.”

Residents will have a hands-on opportunity to learn about flipping properties when the group works on a home in Hazelwood.

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