Urban Renewal: Code word for Urban Removal

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For example a family lives in a house for years, as the kids grow up and move to other cities or other parts of the city, then the parents die. The kids don’t want the house—they have a house, and if they are low-income some either can’t afford the repair or the inheritance tax, which means the house sits for years and is eventually demolished, even though there are thousands of families who would love to have the house if the city and banks worked with them.

I hear the cost of tearing a house down is around $50,000. Well, $50,000 would be all many of these houses would need. URA use to have a wonderful program of working with citizens to get them into one of these, in many cases historic houses. Anyone who has visited Manchester, Mexican War District or Allegheny West can see this program first hand. All the beautiful houses, even though divided into apartments inside, still look the same outside. Many of the people in Allegheny West actually kept the houses as one unit and the ceilings high.

Practically all the new houses I’ve seen start at $132,000 to $180,000, which prices most middle and low income working people out of the housing market. Whereas there are many much better looking and better built old houses that can be purchased from the city or URA for almost nothing, with a cost of $50,000 to $100,000 renovation.

Why the city reverted back to tearing down houses without anything to replace them is a mystery to me. And why there is just now becoming a backlash is a bigger mystery, because much of the damage has been done. I haven’t seen this in any of the White communities or suburbs.

Many during the ‘60s felt that Blacks were being moved out of this prime property near Downtown high-paying jobs, so that the Whites working at these high-paying Downtown jobs could move in. No more sitting in traffic for hours. Just hop on a bus and you are there. But I know this could not have been the case. The city and politicians would never do that. So it had to be some other reason. But I can’t figure it out.

I am interested to know what the new mayor is going to do to fill these vast numbers of vacant lots, all over the city in Black communities.

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