Allegheny County Residents Navigate Changing Eviction Moratoriums


On today's program: Renters who lost their income due to COVID-19 have been caught in the middle of a changing tide of federal and state mandates; the Hazelwood community is being asked for suggestions for a plan to develop 27 acres along the Monongahela River; and the legacy of organized labor in Pittsburgh continues. 

Housing advocates look for clarity in new CDC eviction ban
(00:00 — 6:09)

Landlords filed more than one hundred eviction notices last week, between the end of the state moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and the start of the CDC eviction ban. Some of these evictions are now up to judges. 

“The president judge of Allegheny County issued an order that said that in those cases the district judges that handle those evictions can essentially kind of string them along,” says investigative reporter Rich Lord, who has been covering these developments for PublicSource.

“If you were one of those 255 households subject to an eviction filed last week, you can say to the district judge, ‘Hey, we’re attempting to apply for rental aid, can you please, kind of, continue this eviction filing?’” Lord says. “And the district judge has the power to—indefinitely, at this point—continue the eviction filing until early next year.”  

Allegheny County set aside $25 million for rental assistance for families affected by COVID-19 shutdowns. They have received about 5,700 applications for assistance and formally accepted 54. However, if every applicant files for the maximum amount of assistance available, Lord says $25 million, “is not going to cover it.”

Lord says housing advocates are looking for clarification of points in the CDC order, and worry that vagueness on the various eviction bans could mean some people will be kicked out of their homes during the pandemic. 

Hazelwood Green development commences planning process, solicits community input
(6:11 — 12:47)

Almono, a partnership of three foundations, which owns the 178 acre site of the former LTV Coke Works, will spend the next year creating a master plan to develop 21 acres along the Monongahela riverfront for recreational use. The site, Hazelwood Green, is one of the final undeveloped major stretches of riverfront in the Pittsburgh area.

Developers want public input so the community feels connected to the riverfront and the river, says Todd Stern, the managing director of U3 Advisors, which is serving as a development consultant to Almono.

“The community in Hazelwood wants to ensure that access is clear and safe and usable,” Stern says.

He says the development will celebrate the industrial history of the site, while also building new and community-friendly spaces.

“It’s a balance that we’re going to have to work through over the coming months,” says Stern. “Certainly I think that preserving some of those really cool, unique industrial features would be a great benefit to the site.”

The planning process will take one year. Residents will be able to enjoy the riverfront at Hazelwood Green within the next five years. 

Pittsburgh’s long history with organized labor
(12:50 — 17:48)

Labor Day marks the end of the summer, but it’s also a recognition of America’s labor movement, which has deep roots in Pittsburgh. More than a century ago, workers rose up against grueling hours, few safety procedures and sometimes tyrannical management.

Workers organized strikes, like the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892, during which workers clashed with Pinkerton agents hired by the Carnegie Steel Company. 

“It was seen as a pivotal moment,” says Anne Madarasz, Director of the Curatorial Division and Chief Historian and Director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center.

The gains made by past labor movements are still in place today. The eight hour work day, workplace safety rules, and benefits like sick leave and vacation days are all thanks to unions, Madarasz says. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.