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Bridging Pittsburgh's Haves And Have-Nots Begins By Learning 'How A Neighborhood Breathes'

Pittsburgh has been lauded as a "most livable city," but a 2018 survey from the University of Pittsburgh found perceptions of quality of life vary based on race. How do we bring diverse communities together to create a city that is better for all? 

Majestic Lane, the city’s deputy chief of staff and acting urban affairs officer, is working to blur borders to better ensure that some neighborhoods aren’t left behind. He says a city made of 90 disparate neighborhoods can fall prey to division by its own nature. 

Lane says he takes an on-the-ground approach to community involvement by engaging directly with organizationers, local leaders and political representatives outside of formal meetings. He recommends folks of all stripes explore a restaurant or catch a bus in a neighborhood they don't know well. Equity begins with empathy, he says, and learning "how a neighborhood breathes."

Credit Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA
In the first phase of its life, Blair Street was called "Signature Boulevard."

Later in the program: 

UPMC claims its competitive relationship with Highmark and Allegheny Health Network has given consumers more options, but critics say the upcoming expiration of a contract that would allow UPMC doctors to accept Highmark insurance puts some patients at risk. 90.5 WESA's Sarah Boden spoke with some patients that claim UPMC is trying to leverage its larger provider network to draw insurance consumers away from Highmark, thereby crushing the competition.

Roads that access Hazelwood Green opened to the public Monday. The new routes will provide crucial connections between Hazelwood and surrounding communities and make it possible to safely commute on foot or by bike. 90.5 WESA reporter Margaret J. Krauss joins The Confluence to discuss what's to come as development continues. 

Federal agriculture officials have proposed stricter work requirements for people who receive food stamps. Ann Sanders, public policy advocate for the South Side-based anti-hunger group Just Harvest, strongly opposes the law, as does the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. Sanders says that about 80,000 people who qualify for these benefits reside in Pennsylvania and many of them could lose their food assistance if this Trump-administration-backed change takes effect. Just Harvest is collecting comments on the proposed changes through April 10 here.

And today, voters in the 37th state Senate District will choose a replacement for Guy Reschenthaler, who entered the U.S. House in January. 90.5 WESA’s Chris Potter says people are watching the suburban communities closely for signs of what’s ahead in 2020.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich contributed to this program.

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.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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