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When development of a vacant lot began near Angela Gaito-Lagnese’s Brookline home, she says the demolition took out part of a hillside near her home, causing stormwater to rush into her yard when it rained. Later, she and her family would also have issues with the dust and debris generated from the site. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Laura Guralnick remembers the day she learned that the big, vacant lot at the end of her Brookline street would, in a few years, be developed into an affordable housing complex for senior citizens. Unoccupied for the last 15 years, the site is an 8.2-acre plot of land with old buildings on it — abandoned since the DePaul Institute for the deaf moved to Shadyside in 2002.

As someone who’s worked in affordable housing development and advocated for it, Guralnick was overjoyed.

“Once I found out what that was, I was like, ‘Yes!’ because everyone wonders what’s going to pop up in your neighborhood,” she said. She even called her mom, she was so happy. And later, because she knew Ernie Sota, a local “affordable housing-famous” developer on the project, she called to congratulate him.

But that was two years ago, and for Guralnick and many of her neighbors on Castlegate Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Brookline neighborhood, that’s where the excitement ended.



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