Land Banks 101

Know your issue…

This comes from the Center for Community Progress, which incidentally includes a friendly face! That is, if you’d like more information.

Here is a summary of forthcoming “O’Connor-Gross” amendments to Pittsburgh’s land banking bill, including a new board structure geared to adequately represent affected communities. Meanwhile, Councillors Lavelle, Harris, Kail-Smith and Burgess are hosting a meeting on Tuesday at 6:00 PM at Central Baptist Church to critique that bill and promote a seeming alternative. [Updated write-up] [Further point-counterpoint.]

Yes, the math on this one is like that. So expect the latter to pull their goaltender, crash the net, and try to send a message.

*-TODAY: Also, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania is holding an information session with Q&A on Wednesday from 3:00-5:00 at the August Wilson Center (presumably as practicum).

14 thoughts on “Land Banks 101

  1. Carl Redwood

    Pittsburgh Land Bank: In whose interest?
    Carl Redwood, Hill District
    Many people are excited about the possibility of creating a Pittsburgh Land Bank. As the legislation and other details are developed and debated we must ask ourselves some fundamental questions. Who should benefit from the Land Bank? Will the land bank benefit developers and community developers or will the land bank benefit current low income residents of these gentrifying neighborhoods? Is it about land and profits or is it about people?
    The land bank must be placed within the larger context of Pittsburgh land use policy. Pittsburgh land use policy over the last 60 years has resulted in the forced migration of black people to the suburbs. This process began with the destruction of the Lower Hill to build parking lots and has continued with the mismanagement, neglect and then destruction of public housing in many Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
    This steady destruction of affordable housing has forced Black and low income residents to seek rental housing in the suburbs.
    Many different terms are used to describe this process of forcing people from their homes and neighborhoods by raising rents. I call it gentrification, displacement and forced migration. Some people call it clearing blight, or right sizing the city, or creating “defensible space”. Others have called it something like Fear of a Black East Liberty.
    The policies of the City of Pittsburgh have created a clear pattern and trend of forcing black people out! Will the land bank reverse or accelerate this trend?
    Because of City land use policy the Black population of Pittsburgh has declined from 100,000 in 1980 to 80,000 in 2010. Also because of City land use policy the Black population of the suburbs has increased from 80,000 in 1980 to 115,000 in 2010. The reason for this is because there is not enough affordable housing in Pittsburgh – the rents are too damn high.
    This current policy must be reversed. The Land Bank must play a role in reversing this policy.
    There must be two goals that guide all land bank decisions:
    1. Providing decent, affordable housing and a suitable living environment and
    2. Expanding economic opportunities, principally for low and moderate income residents
    The main way to help reverse the damage of the City of Pittsburgh past policy of gentrification and forced black migration is to require inclusionary affordable housing. All multi-unit housing construction using Land Bank property must provide 30% affordable housing for people with low and very low incomes.
    Whose City? Our City!

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Thank you for chiming in here, Carl. I am new to the civic issue of affordable housing. When it arose here in connection with the Lower Hill, it’s importance was immediately apparent to me — we have 28 acres separating Downtown and a very poor neighborhood. If housing affordability measures are not taken, we will replicate and worsen a very stark economic segregation. Bad for livability. Now the call for affordable housing is spreading in connection with the Land Bank legislation. I agree wholeheartedly any Land Bank should address that general City need, as structurally as possible. But what is the best way to do that, in a pre-built heterogeneous environment? Offset market-price units with affordable units by district or neighborhood? Or to define a certain percentage of affordable unit production city-wide, or a certain number of them? In a city as diverse as ours I am willing to grant the land bank should be able to cater to the demands of Pittsburgh’s affluent — as appropriate, where appropriate. It’s been suggested that doing so is necessary to make the provision of affordable units sustainable.

      It’s important not only that we address the need for affordable housing in a Land Bank but that we do it right, or I should say wisely. That requires nuance, which is something the instant Land Bank conversation resists. But to borrow a baseball metaphor, we’re still in the 5th inning. Bottom of the 5th. It’s an official game, just going to take a while more. If that is the direction the conversation turns, then the more spectacular elements of the conversation will have proved ultimately worthwhile.

    2. Brian Tucker-Hill

      I keep hammering away at this point, but if you are concerned about the number of affordable units that will be available in the City for future lower-income households, then:

      (A) Your requirements for the affordable component of new construction should be in terms of the number of affordable units, not the percentage of affordable units; and

      (B) You also need to be focusing on maximizing the number of new units in general.

      Point A should be self-explanatory–that is just a matter of math. Point B isn’t much harder to understand: affordable housing requirements in new constructions can only address a small portion of the overall affordable housing need, and if you aren’t building new units at a pace sufficient to keep up with demand, you will end up without enough affordable units to go around.

  2. Anonymous

    What is wrong with this site that you don’t have any passion?
    This is a big issue and this site is always crickets…

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Jinx, you owe me a coke. New enormous post.

      You guys don’t remember the old days. The best blogs would go idle for weeks at a time… and that was before Twitter stole a lot of thunder. All the better for some posts to bore into your brain, though.

    2. New Coke

      I think it’s the new clunky commenting format that is limiting participation, at least compared to Classic Comet.

      1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        Commenting has gone out of style. The Old Guard have finally figured it out, #nextPGH is too cool for school, and MSM article comments are discouraging.

        These kids spin gold and get nothing. Totals are modest even over here.

  3. deegazette

    I still have a flip phone and the kids think I should go twitter my thumbs down to nubs. Although, oddly enough, people I know in their early twenties have taken words I have spoken and turned them into tweets which were memorable enough to be retweeted. Perhaps a posting party should be held here.

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