Strong Neighborhoods Committee

Working together to improve quality of life in Wilkinsburg by addressing blighted and abandoned properties.

Our Purpose

The goal of this committee is to build strong neighborhoods through an investigation of the causes and impacts of blight and vacancy in Wilkinsburg and work with the WCDC to develop a Vacant Property Re-Use Plan to address vacancy and blight, mitigate threats of displacement and gentrification, and create catalysts for reinvestment driven by community vision.

Our Objectives

  • Complete a Vacant Property Survey
  • Develop a robust and active outreach plan
  • Develop a framework for community planning sessions
  • Conduct  neighborhood planning sessions
  • Create a Vacant Property Re-Use plan for each neighborhood
  • Connect residents to housing and vacant property resources
  • Work closely with established groups to implement the strategies

Get Involved!

The Strong Neighborhoods Committee invites you to join in neighborhood visioning sessions.

In these vision sessions, participants will be invited to share their thoughts on what their ideal neighborhood is, review the maps and data collected by the committee to identify potential properties for projects, learn about resources available, and set shared goals and strategies to address vacancy. The vision, goals and strategies for each neighborhood will be compiled into a Vacant Property Re-Use Plan for all of Wilkinsburg with contributions, feedback, and review from the neighborhood steward & their committees.

Our first series of meetings will take place in the Singer Place neighborhood via zoom.

Planning meetings for other neighborhoods will be scheduled throughout the spring and summer (dates coming soon!). For all neighborhoods we are looking for both participants and neighborhood stewards to help lead and recruit residents to participate in future sessions. Interested? Fill out the form or call 412-727-7855.

Singer Place meeting dates:  

  • Saturday, May 1,  10:00 – 12:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 11,  6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 27,  6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Upper Center meeting dates:  

  • Thursday, May 6,  6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 18,  6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 3,  6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

 

Join the Committee

The Strong Neighborhoods Committee meets monthly in a virtual setting to discuss the challenges facing Wilkinsburg residents and business owners as it relates to vacant properties, share resources and information and work towards committee goals.

Participants may engage through contributions including but not limited to:

  • Attending committee meetings 
  • Volunteering expertise
  • Actively network building and recruiting
  • Collecting data for mapping
  • Participating in neighborhood visioning sessions
  • Participation in other committee activities
  • Learning and sharing

    Beginning in 2021, the committee will establish working groups for each of Wilkinsburg’s nineteen neighborhoods (map below) to conduct neighborhood planning sessions and develop community driven strategies specifically designed for each area. Meeting agendas, notes and outreach documents are available here via google drive.

    Join us for committee meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 4:00pm to 5:30pm.

    Fill out the interest form or email jpallitto@hillgroupinc.com to receive the monthly zoom link.

    March 2021 Updates

    March’s Committee Meeting focused on encouraging participants to join the outreach efforts and discuss the upcoming neighborhood meeting schedules. Members also disucussed property related issues and resource sharing.

    We are looking for neighborhood stewards to support the outreach effort for the visioning process in each neighborhood!  If you would like to be a steward for your neighborhood or particpate in a visioning session, let us know by filling out an interest form.

    Data Collection

    We have officially finished out quality control of the data collected and reduced the number of errors and unknowns as best we can. This will help us begin to analyze trends within the community since the last inventory in 2017 and help us focus in on specific areas that are still at risk and assess what impact activities since then have had.

    Community Resources

    The WCDC team is working to build out an additional page on our website to share links and opportunities for education, training and programs tthat provide support for a varietty of property, homeowner, and rental resources. Stay tuned!

    *CLICK HERE for a downloadable pdf of full March Updates*

    February 2021 Updates

    February’s Committee Meeting focused on sharing the status of the mapping and data collection process, and encouraging committee members to step up as community stewards. Members also disucussed property related issues and resource sharing.

    We are looking for neighborhood stewards to support the visioning process in each neighborhood!  If you would like to be a steward for your neighborhood or particpate in a visioning session, let us know by filling out an interest form.

    Data Collection

    Data collection was completed at the end of January thanks to the participation of 14 residents over the past 3 months. This data is being analyzed and compared to secondary sources and will be introduced at the March committee meeting. This data concludes:

    • The location of vacant properties and parcels as well as their observed condition.
    • Tax delinquency, zoning, public ownership and public assets.
    • Potential demolitions, possible development areas, possible sideyards available.

    Some data must still be verified – there are several vacant structures that couldn’t be confirmed as vacant – if anyone has additional insight on these properties to share, please add comments to this document.

    *CLICK HERE for a downloadable pdf of full February Updates*

    January 2021 Updates

    Vacant property data collection began in November using the Landgrid platform for mobile devices. As Of end of January 2021, the SNC (Strong Neighborhoods Committee) completed about ​65% ​of the survey with the assistance of 14 residents. ​Data will be analyzed aiming for February analysis so that communication for planning efforts can begin in March and extend through the summer as needed.

    Other SNC Meeting Highlights/Themes
    • The cost to rehab or demolition does not justify the investment by many residents.
    • There is a lack of clarity over which programs are applicable and access to or awareness of various financing options.
    • There is a need for connections to knowledgable contractors for consultations. ​

    A full update from January 2021 is available as a downloadable pdf HERE.

    Leadership

    The Strong Neighborhood Committee is led by committee chairs, Deb Rose and Pam Panchak with guidance from WCDC staff members and Vacant Property Consultant, Evaine K. Sing from EKS Solutions, LLC.

    Facilitation is provided by Ellen Ruddock and Jordan Pallitto from The Hill Group. The committee is working in collaboration with the WCDC’s Vacant Property Recovery Initiative funded by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE).

    Formation

    The Strong Neighborhoods Committee was formed following a Focus Group visioning process led by the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation. Through a series of surveys and zoom, which took place over the Summer of 2020, residents and stakeholders discussed strengths, challenges and key issues facing Wilkinsburg. Blight and the abundance of vacant properties were among the largest concerns identified. Learn more about the Focus Group HERE.

    Neighborhood Map of Wilkinsburg as outlined in the Borough’s Comprehensive Plan.

    Looking for more help acquiring a vacant property?

    Get more details on our Vacant Property Webpage or by emailing vacantproperty@wilkinsburgcdc.org.