In the mayoral design forum, the questions we asked covered these four topics. Read below to learn some more context on each.
Equitable and Empowered Communities
Community members are living experts of their neighborhoods, and any new project or initiative should be co-created with community members. Co-created leads to spaces where the community feels ownership and spaces that are more in tuned with the communities’ needs. This is especially important in neighborhoods that the city has historically harmed or denied investment in the past.
Climate and Community Sustainability
Pittsburgh has vowed to reduce emissions by 50 % by 2030. The building industry is responsible for 39% of carbon emissions globally (11% for building material and construction and 28% for building operations). Conversations about sustainability and climate change also cannot exist without speaking about racial injustice. Communities of color and low income individuals are also more likely to be exposed to pollution (from proximity to waste facilities and industrial plants) and therefore be at higher risks of illness – including respiratory diseases like covid-19.
The Affordable Housing Task Force identified that there is a gap of approximately 17,241 affordable and available rental units in Pittsburgh for households at or below 50% of Pittsburgh median household income. Over 1,700 of the city’s Affordable housing units will expire by the end of 2021, and most of these units are in predominantly black neighborhoods. Decades of housing discrimination have led to large gaps in who gets to own homes, leaving communities of color, low-income, and elderly individuals trapped in a system where they have to struggle to find housing. Housing should be a fundamental human right, and without access to housing fundamental to an individual’s health and wellbeing, it’s increasingly challenging folks to get out of this harmful system.
The city of Pittsburgh has been responsible for the displacement and attempted destruction of Black neighborhoods and cultural spaces. Displacement continues today across communities through gentrification and “revitalization” to attract a new demographic rather than investing in the existing community. The preservation and investment of cultural, historic, and community spaces at risk of destruction is crucial.