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Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

Burgess Proposes Spreading Mixed-Income Housing Across East End

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City of Pittsburgh Council District 9
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Councilman Ricky Burgess at his desk.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess is rolling out a few more details on his plan to preserve and expand affordable housing in the city’s East End.

“You have to rebuild schools, make the community safe, rebuild housing and rebuild social service entities all at the same time in the parts of the community on the edge, next to strength,” Burgess said.

In the case of Homewood, Burgess said that would mean focusing on Homewood West and Homewood South.

“That’s right next to north Point Breeze, right next to East Liberty,” Burgess said. “You can’t build two or three houses and then move on. You have to put 100 houses, 75 houses, 200 houses in a concentrated area and transform it from blight into mixed income neighborhoods.”

Burgess stressed mixed-income; often economic development in a neighborhood means new high-end condos and homes that are out of the range of low-income residents, he said.

“I am not against development," Burgess said. "Why does it have to be an either-or? Why can it (not) be a both? We can do both by investment, by investing in communities that make sure there are affordable options in those communities.”

Blight and high vacancy are second on his list, he said. 

“You have areas like Homewood where two families a week voluntarily leave the community because of its blight,” said Burgess, who pins the third factor on the rebuilding of Pittsburgh Housing Authority properties in ways that reduce the total number of homes available.       

Returning to his plans, Burgess told 90.5 WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh that he would like to see the affordable housing effort push from west to east and extend the energy in East Liberty to Larimer, Homewood and Lincoln-Lemington.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.