Pittsburgh’s plan to beautify depressed neighborhoods while boosting employment

The view from Trina Anderson‘s house in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a jungle of weeds on vacant lots owned by the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The city wants to cite you if you don’t keep your yard the way they want you to keep it, and look how they take care of their property,” she said.

Kevin Acklin, who chairs the URA board and serves as Mayor Bill Peduto‘s chief of staff, has a plan to provide regular maintenance while pumping cash into depressed neighborhoods.

The beautification work would provide jobs to unemployed residents, while permiting small companies to grow. It would also provide them with training in how to better operate a business, Acklin said.

You’re investing that dollar in the neighborhood, and that dollar can spin out as leverage and have more of an impact on a neighborhood,” he said.

Lee Walls, executive director of Hill District-based Amani Christian Community Development Corp., which won a bid, said he intends to employ up to nine residents.

We hope it will improve their economic position, so they can move onto something more career-oriented,” he said. “It’s also for the Hill District community. We certainly want to enhance the image.

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