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Media Coverage | Pittsburgh is ‘all-in’ to break down racial barriers

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By: Bob Bauder | Tribune Review | May 14th, 2019 | Read the full article 

Pittsburgh City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, flanked by other city officials and community leaders, outlines a package of bills designed to improve racial equality in government and city neighborhoods. Pittsburgh City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, flanked by other city officials and community leaders, outlines a package of bills designed to improve racial equality in government and city neighborhoods.

Pittsburgh leaders announced four City Council bills Tuesday that are designed to increase diversity and equity across city government.

The city hopes to set an example that would be followed by corporations, institutions and nonprofits in the city, according to Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle of the Hill District.

“The city of Pittsburgh must become a place where people of color can actually thrive,” he said. “That requires an intentional focus on eliminating racial inequities and barriers and making accountable and catalytic investments to ensure that historically disenfranchised communities and lower-wealth residents directly benefit from our new and growing economy. These pieces of legislation that were introduced today aim to do just that.”

Pittsburgh officials announced a series of bills introduced by City Council on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, that are designed to improve racial equality in the city.

The legislation would:

  • Declare Pittsburgh as an official “All-In” city, meaning it will work to break down longstanding racial barriers.
  • Require residential developers to submit a housing impact statement to the city along with project plans. The statement would analyze how the development would impact both affordable and market-rate housing in the project area.
  • Require all city departments to craft and implement equity and diversity goals. Council will set their annual budgets based on how successful they’ve been in meeting the goals.
  • Create an Equity and Inclusion Implementation Team to implement, monitor and enforce equity and diversity goals in all city departments. Council has hired Kellie Ware-Seabron to serve as diversity and inclusion coordinator in conjunction with the team and the mayor’s Office of Racial Equity. The annual salary is $57,086.

Councilman Ricky Burgess of North Point Breeze, who co-sponsored the legislation with Lavelle, said the city would work with more than 40 organizations dubbed the All-In Pittsburgh Coalition to challenge corporations, institutions and nonprofits to set the same goals.

“At the end of the day, this is about institutional change,” said Presley L. Gillespie, president and CEO of Neighborhood Allies, a community development organization and member of the All-In coalition. “This is about breaking down the barriers that created these issues years ago.”

Mayor Bill Peduto said the city plans to track progress of the legislation and use the information to measure performance.

“What we want are real measurements to show where we can have success and where we have challenges that still need to be addressed,” he said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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