Strong Neighborhoods Initiative

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

Do you have a will? If not, reach out today.

Through the 2022 calendar year, the WCDC is working with Kalmeyer and Kalmeyer to support Wilkinsburg residents in preparing a will, estate planning, and other legal transactions related to real estate transactions. Submit your information below to join the program. 

 

Strong Neighborhoods 2022: Vacant Property Resources

With the support of the PA Housing Finance Agency and the PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE), the WCDC is excited to announce ongoing and new resources to support community members in their efforts to acquire and rehabilitate vacant property in Wilkinsburg. This effort builds off of the work completed by the WCDC’s Strong Neighborhoods Committee during 2020 and 2021 — Thank you to everyone who contributed to this important community process!

The WCDC will partner with experts in the field to provide:

Technical Assistance:

  • General Assistance (Questions/Application Support/Property Research)
  • Property-related Legal Advice

Education and Networking:

  • Workshop and Info Sessions 
  • Networking Opportunities 
  • Resource Fairs

Resources and Opportunities:

  • Acquisition Funds for the Vacant Property Recovery Program
  • Estate Planning
  • Funds for Property Repairs and Updates (Exterior)

Contact Us for General Support & Technical Assistance

If you have a question or concern about vacant and blighted property in your Wilkinsburg neighborhood, are interested in learning about support for the VPRP program, or getting a will, click the button below to get in touch.

Apply for Homeowner Acquisition and Repair Program (HARP)

We will be providing funding directly to community members to support vacant property acquisition through the Vacant Property Recovery Program (VPRP) and/or to support exterior repairs and updates to a vacant property.

Applications are now closed, estimates and review of the requested work is being completed now. All applicants will be notified of the award decisions by the end of March 2022.

Strong Neighborhoods Committee Wrap-Up

The WCDC invited 350 Wilkinsburg stakeholders to participate in a visioning process from June to August 2020. Because large community gatherings could not be held during COVID-19, participants engaged in a series of surveys and Zoom sessions to replicate the community meeting process.

This process found that:

  • Wilkinsburg’s population continues to decline, which places the tax burden on fewer residents each year;
  • Occupied housing units continue to decline as a result;
  • The borough and school district’s financial viability becomes unsustainable without strategies for increasing revenue and/or decreasing expenses;
  • High tax rates continue to make the borough uncompetitive for private commercial investment;
  • Wilkinsburg residents are among those who pay the highest property taxes in the county, with low income residents being the most affected. 

In the findings, it is noted that the high property taxes seem to be the root cause of increasing numbers of people abandoning their properties, families moving from Wilkinsburg, lack of investment and improvement in the business district, and the perception of crime and resistance to change. As a result, one of the two recommendations included the formation and ongoing management of a Strong Neighborhoods Committee in order to dive deeply into the issues related to property management and viability. This committee officially launched in October 2020. 

Through virtual meetings, the committee shared available tools and resources and provided a platform for residents to voice concerns, ask questions, and share lessons learned. Committee members helped shape the meeting schedule, make vacant property inventory updates, and support outreach efforts.

Participants were recruited through word-of-mouth and borough-wide channels. Residents were asked to fill out an outreach form to help the committee understand which neighborhood they were from and what their interests were. 

The monthly meetings ended in May 2021, as the committee transitioned into individual neighborhood conversations. You can review monthly updates and more information about all committee meetings by clicking on the monthly update sections below.

For specific updates and information gathered from these meetings, check out the monthly updates below. A full report on the WCDC and Strong Neighborhoods work around vacant property is available here.

September 2021 Updates

Neighborhood Planning Meetings

The Strong Neighborhood Meetings have been completed!

If you were unable to attend but would like to provide input please email vacantproperty@wilkinsburgcdc.org

Community Resources/Education

We will be hosting an education session on the Sheriff Sale process at the WCDC offices (725 Wood St) on the 21st of October from 6-8 PM.

Stay tuned for registration and updates!

The WCDC team has updated their website with links to information, programs, and other educational opportunities covering a variety of topics relevant to the Strong Neighborhoods work. Email vacantproperty@wilkinsburgcdc.org to schedule a technical assistance appointment.

*SNC_September Update for a downloadable pdf of full September Updates*

July/August 2021 Updates

July/August’s Committee Meeting focused on reviewing neighborhood meetings so far and continuing to prepare for future meetings.

Neighborhood Planning Meetings

Meetings are wrapping up by the end of next month, register for meetings ahead of time for updates on any schedule changes. If you were unable to attend but would like to provide input please email vacantproperty@wilkinsburgcdc.org

Community Resources

The WCDC team has updated their website with links to information, programs, and other educational opportunities covering a variety of topics relevant to the Strong Neighborhoods work. Email vacantproperty@wilkinsburgcdc.org to schedule a technical assistance appointment.

*SNC_ Public_July_August Update for a downloadable pdf of full June Updates*

June 2021 Updates

June’s Committee Meeting focused on reviewing neighborhood meetings so far and continuing to prepare for future meetings.

Neighborhood Planning Meetings

Registration for all meetings is now open and for the most part, dates and times have been selected. Those who have registered will be notified of the details. These meetings are scheduled throughout the summer through September.

Community Resources

The WCDC team has updated their website with links to information, programs, and other educational opportunities covering a variety of topics relevant to the Strong Neighborhoods work. Email vacantproperty@wilkinsburgcdc.org to schedule a technical assistance appointment.

*SNC Public June Update for a downloadable pdf of full June Updates*

May 2021 Updates

May’s Committee Meeting focused on wrapping up the group dialogue while preparing people for the upcoming neighborhood meetings.

Neighborhood Planning Meetings

Registration for all meetings is now open and for the most part, dates and times have been selected. Those who have registered will be notified of the details. These meetings are scheduled throughout the summer through September.

Community Resources

The WCDC team has updated their website with links to information, programs, and other educational opportunities covering a variety of topics relevant to the Strong Neighborhoods work. Email vacantproperty@wilkinsburgcdc.org to schedule a technical assistance appointment.

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

April 2021 Updates

April’s Committee Meeting focused on recruiting residents to become stewards and assist with outreach in their own neighborhood.

Neighborhood Planning Meetings

Registration for all meetings is now open. Once they have been scheduled and confirmed, those who have registered will be notified of the details. These meetings will occur throughout the summer.

Community Resources

The WCDC team has updated their website with links to information, programs, and other educational opportunities covering a variety of topics relevant to the Strong Neighborhoods work. Email vacantproperty@wilkinsburgcdc.org to schedule a technical assistance appointment.

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

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.

Have a question or concern related to vacant property in Wilkinsburg?