TIM STEVENS (Courier Photo/File)
A week before the primary election, Black Political Empowerment Project founder Tim Stevens sent a letter to both Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Councils, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and all the mayoral candidates calling for a moratorium on housing demolition, particularly in Pittsburgh’s East End.
With the election now over, B-PEP will go before city council May 29 to again promote the idea of having community agencies like Community Empowerment Association and House of Manna rehab some of these homes and in the process teach local youth trade skills they could translate into good-paying jobs.
“We believe this rapid demolition of our valuable housing stock is not only a harm to the image of the community, but also an extreme waste of public resources, as the money allocated to tear down these homes could instead be re-allocated to rehab many of these properties,” said Stevens.
He said there are more than 230 condemned properties in Homewood alone.
“We’re not saying don’t tear down any houses. One’s that present an imminent danger to the neighborhood should go, obviously,” he said. “But my hope is this will spark a conversation about finding a positive, more productive approach that can help re-instill hope an pride within these communities.”
Stevens said his letter might have already had an effect. He said Derek Lopez, president and CEO of the Homewood Children’s Village who told him he’d asked the city to tear down two near-by burned-out buildings and was told it couldn’t be done because the city is honoring with the moratorium.
Lopez, who was traveling for the holiday, did not respond to emails for comment by New Pittsburgh Courier deadline. But Bureau of Building Inspection Demolition Manager Paul Loy said that report was news to him, adding he had not been told anything about a moratorium.