Thursday, February 15, 2007

Eastside redux

For those who are under any preconception that the redevelopment of East Liberty has much hope of helping traditional East Liberty residents... Check out this CP news blurb that mentions the work my colleague Sabina and others did to try and put in place just a tracking system for displaced residents. They really tried to push this and got nowhere. Basically, nobody wanted to know the answer and trying to figure it out now, years after most left, is a pretty meaningless gesture.

Funny though when you read something like this. If the topic is about people and former residents, the discussion is all about "East Liberty" and no mention of "Eastide". If the discussion is about big box retail coming in it is just the opposite even though they are talking about the same exact piece of geography. I once saw a advertisement that described the corner of Penn and Highland solely as the intersection of the Shadyside and Penn Ave. Arts Districts with not a single mention of East Liberty.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were putting a meeting together over there last year, and if we said "East Liberty" people would freak out. If we said "across from the Home Depot" instead, nobody had a problem.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could consider the loss of East Liberty residents from a lot of angles. I think the original Hope VI/URA/Housing Authority/Community Builders line was "a house for a house." Most people didn't need a house in three years, though, they needed a house right away.

They had no incentive to stick around. Their East Liberty neighbors have no incentive to find them, or to find new residents to build a cohesive community. I think real estate laws forbid finders' fees. I do think that you can create incentives for marketing the neighborhood. I do think there are legal and ethical ways of creating community compacts, ways that encourage human investment and discourage transience and speculative investment.

The incentives for city/authority employees have to be considered. If you're rewarded for not making mistakes, your behavior will be circumscribed. In my opinion, most private real estate efforts take a more cavalier approach to customer service. That is, they'll do what they can to attract and hold customers.

This all assumes that finding tenants and buyers for East Liberty development is a problem. I have no information either way.

O.K. maybe the problem is that a promise was made, and people still want to make good on the promise.

If that's the case, let's work the problem. 300 families. 300 phonebook searches. 300 google searches. My Space. Facebook.

How about making some nhd residents contractors?

gotta run. SOrry mistakees were made.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 8:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding, Chris, is that it was illegal for the URA to share the residential relocation information with anyone, not just COR.

Friday, February 16, 2007 7:33:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

OK, I understand that issue and concern, but two things. One is that I am pretty sure that was not the reason given for lack of support. but more importantly, we sign appropriate confidentiality agreements with all sorts of governments (fed, states and local) for access to all such administrative records where there is a public purpose need for research. There are protocols developed for then releasing the results of such research (that is if it even needed to ever be released) in de-identified or summary formats. This is not an issue that ever holds up something like this unless someone wants it to be an obstacle.

Friday, February 16, 2007 8:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given that the lastest redevelopment of East Liberty is being held up as a model for the redevelopment of city neighborhoods, it would be worth a thorough examination of the process. With a weak city government and robust philanthropic sector, significant control of the redevelopment process, and the debate concerning development priorities, was effectively shifted outside of the public eye. In addition, much of the system of checks and balances was on the same payroll. Things happen.
One part of the process that made the redevelopment of East Liberty unique was that considerable resources were devoted to engaging the design, arts, and young creative class populations in the process. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as the poor were similarly empowered in the process. I never got the impression that they were.
When seeking public funds the development was often justified as benefiting the poor. It's interesting how little attention was devoted to understanding if a benefit actually materialized.

Friday, February 16, 2007 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can it be illegal for the URA to give relocated residents' contact information to COR, but not illegal to give it to HACP, HUD, ELDI, TCB and McCormack-Baron?
But how to reach relocated residents is beside the point. The City certainly knows how to redevelop properties without losing people if it wants. When the SEA wanted to move an elderly highrise to make way for PNC Park, they did it without losing a single resident. But when it comes to revitalizing low income Black neighborhoods, the M.O. is a voucher, a couple dollars, and don't let the door hit you on your way to the next low-rent, high poverty neighborhood (or homelessness).
If the URA really wanted to improve the living conditions of original residents of East Liberty, they could have master leased relocation apartments like the SEA did. Or they could have built the new housing at Penn Manor and Liberty Park before tearing down the highrises. Or they could have NOT paid people to move out of the community (the $1000 "quick move incentive" - 2 months' income for someone on SSI - was good anywhere but Penn Circle.

What's happening in East Liberty is the same as what's happening in New Orleans, and in low income Black communities all over the country. Displacement and gentrification, paid for with our tax dollars.

Sunday, February 18, 2007 3:41:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I probably should have said this up front.. but comments for that article can also be left directly on the City Paper web site. Click on the story link above and scroll to the bottom. I suspect there is little readership of my blog posts after a day or two.

Sunday, February 18, 2007 6:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are the "original residents" of East Liberty? Does it mean that in 1965 when the "Redevelopment" of East Liberty started there was un-displacement and un-gentrification? Were low-income Blacks induced to live in East Liberty?

Improvements or declines are pretty much related to your starting point.

The goal in 1965 was to make East Liberty a suburban shopping oasis with equality and brotherhood for all. Guess what? It didn't work. There were major demographic and cultural changes afloat and the best intentions of planners
went seriously askew.

From our present vantage point it looks like attitudes are changing about East Liberty abeit slowly. Don't, worry in a few years there will be complaints about "over-building" on the Penn Avenue Corridor. Opps we did it again.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 1:28:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

true enough on what defines East Liberty and if look fartehr back you see a different population altogether..

but that raises the bigger point. If you look at the movement of Population within Pittsburgh ocer the last 60-70 years, what you see is that the East Liberty African American Population sure seems to be a population that was displaced from the lower hill en masse. When you consider that Pittsburgh as a whole prides itself on having some of the most stable neighborhoods in the country, what has happened to that one group, artificially displaced not just once mut multiple time, stands out.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 7:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the issue is less about which population owns or has rights to East Liberty, and is more about the kind of place created through the redevelopment, and how the most vulnerable were treated in the process.
It's interesting that while East Liberty had often been vilified as a failure, there were many different perspectives as to the nature of that failure. Some saw the 60's redevelopment as a design and commercial failure. Others saw East Liberty as a civic embarrassment about how Pgh segregates along race and class, and how support for the poor tends to be more a perfunctory chore than civic pride and responsibility.
The Eastside portion of East Liberty doesn't look like a failure, because the design and commercial and poverty failures are gone, and apparently addressed. It's easy to assume that everything was fixed. But not everything is seen, and it would be nice to see where the poverty component was fixed as well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger InsideAgitator said...

Thanks for linking back to this thread.

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