Friday, May 31, 2013

Fwd: Tim Stevens to Speak Live TODAY AT NOON!!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Black Political Empowerment Project(B-PEP)

Tim Stevens, Chairman & CEO of The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) and Co-Convener of Coalition Against Violence (CAV) Will be  guest speaking live on WESA radio 90.5 (formerly WDUQ) "Essential Pittsburgh" show between 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM THIS AFTERNOON to speak about B-PEP's request for a moratorium on the extraordinary level of houses being demolished in the black community.  Members of B-PEP went to City Council on Wednesday, May 29 with letters requesting a special post agenda it was passed unanimously! We encourage you to call during this live broadcasting. 
  • Call 412-246-2002 from 12pm to 1 pm weekdays to participate in the discussion.
  • Dial 412-256-8783 to leave a question or comment before or after the show
  • The "B-PEP Community Moments Radio Show!"


    On WGBN Radio AM 1150, "The Voice of Urban Pittsburgh," With Odell Richardson, Bill Neal and Lois "Toni" McClendon features conversations about issues, concerns and events of interest to the African American community in the Pittsburgh region. The show is broadcast each first and fourth Saturday of every month from 12 noon to 1 pm.

Below are articles from 3-29-2013 Post Gazette and Tribune Review
B-PEP asks Pittsburgh City Council for special meeting on property demolitions
May 29, 2013 11:52 pm

By Ed Blazina / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Councilman Ricky Burgess should understand the conundrum created by vacant lots and buildings: His council district has about 4,000 of them, many of them in Homewood.

What's the best thing to do with empty buildings? Board them up, leaving them available for squatters and vagrants? Tear them down, the solution favored by neighbors? Then what happens with the empty lots?

For more than two years, Mr. Burgess said Wednesday, he has been working behind the scenes to develop a land bank and establish a process for handling the 

. Now, he said, it's time to make that process more public after the Black Political Empowerment Program asked council Wednesday for a moratorium on demolition in poor communities and a special meeting to discuss vacant property.

"I'm going to engage them in this so they are involved in the process," Mr. Burgess said.

Tim Stevens, B-PEP's chairman and CEO, told council he's alarmed by the number of vacant lots in Homewood and other poor neighborhoods, including many streets with more overgrown lots than active residences. Another 329 Homewood properties are on the city's list for demolition this year, he said.

"How can you have a community when you have no neighbors?" asked Mr. Stevens, who said the atmosphere leads to more crime and less diligence by the remaining homeowners to care for their property. "That's not a community."

He called for many of the buildings to be refurbished by workers enrolled in training 

rather than continuing with demolition.

Mr. Burgess said he will meet with community leaders first, then hold a series of special council meetings to discuss how to accumulate land, care for it until it is ready for redevelopment and hire and train neighborhood residents in demolition and construction.

The scope of the problem is the biggest hurdle. Mr. Burgess estimated it could cost as much as $500 million to 

 with every vacant parcel in his district.

Mr. Stevens found at least one sympathetic ear in Councilman Bill Peduto, who last week won the Democratic nomination for mayor. He said he favors a more measured approach, with the city partnering with nonprofit neighborhood groups to refurbish as many buildings as possible.

"We have the ability to demolish houses that need to be demolished, but that's not all of them," he said. "If you took one of those houses and moved it to Squirrel Hill it would sell for $300,000."

Marissa Doyle, a spokeswoman for outgoing Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, was noncommittal about a moratorium on demolition.

"Rehabilitation is always preferred, but when certain properties are deemed a safety hazard by public safety officials, demolition is a possible solution," she said. "We are glad that attention is being brought to the hundreds of condemned properties that can be salvaged, and we are open to any suggested solutions that will help transform these blighted houses into homes for residents."

Ed Blazina:
First Published May 29, 2013 11:49 am

Read more:

Residents ask Pittsburgh to halt demolition of vacant homes

This house at 2722 Hazelton Street in Perry Hilltop, shown, Tuesday, is an example of the blight upsetting some residents of the neighborhood.

By Aaron Aupperlee 

Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 11:47 p.m.
Updated 11 hours ago 

Shakeeta Scott walks by a vacant house on Reed Street in the Hill District each morning.

The roof sags. Windows are missing, broken or boarded. Old tires pile up in the driveway. The garage is wide open, filled with garbage and discarded furniture.

"I don't know what's in there or what's going to jump out," said Scott, 37, who lives just up the road.

"Tear that down. Knock that down," chanted William Johnson, 18, who also lives nearby.

The city has marked 2351 Reed St. for demolition, one of hundreds of buildings it expects to tear down this year. But residents on Wednesday urged city council members to temporarily halt demolitions, especially in less affluent East End neighborhoods, where 329 buildings are on a condemnation list.

Council responded on Wednesday by requiring the Bureau of Building Inspection to consider a neighborhood's plan for the building or its historic context before applying to the city planning department for a demolition permit. The city, community organizations and community development corporations may petition the department for a hearing to halt any demolition.

"We're not saying, 'Don't tear down houses that need to be torn down,'" said Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project. "We think there should be some kind of balance between demolition and rehabbing."

Stevens said the city could use the money it spends to tear down houses to pay for workers to rebuild them. He and others asked council to consider a plan championed by Councilman Bill Peduto during his mayoral campaign to use abandoned buildings as on-job training centers, where city residents could find work, learn building trades and rehabilitate older buildings.

The city spent more than $3.3 million last year tearing down homes and plans to spend $3 million this year.

"To keep things from being demolished, someone has to take responsibility for it," said Paul Loy, the city's demolition manager. "Unfortunately, that rarely happens."

Councilman Daniel Lavelle said it does happen. He can point to rehabbed and reinhabited houses in his district to prove it. Lavelle's district, which includes the Hill District and several North Side neighborhoods, pursues an "anti-demolition" policy, asking the city to spare houses neighborhoods think they can rehabilitate.

Demolishing homes can divide a neighborhood, pitting those who live near the dilapidated buildings against community organizations that want to save them, said Councilman Ricky Burgess, whose district includes Homewood and thousands of vacant properties.

"I think the community groups and the citizens need to be on the same page," Burgess said.

Council intends to conduct a public hearing later on the issue.

Staff writer Bob Bauder contributed to this story. Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or

Read more: 
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The Black Political Empowerment Project(B-PEP) | C/O The Hill House Center | 1835 Centre Avenue | Pittsburgh | PA | 15219

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