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City Council's Eviction Ban Under Litigation Days After It Passed

Kiley Koscinski
90.5 WESA
A group representing landlords has sued the city over its eviction ban. Councilor Deborah Gross says the ban will help households who are still facing the threat of eviction, despite state and federal rent moratoriums.

On today's program: Pittsburgh Councilor Deborah Gross explains why the city enacted its own eviction ban, despite various rent moratoria in place, and why the ban is within the council’s purview; the city may see a baby boom this year, despite the pandemic-related recession and a predicted baby-bust nationwide; and the livestream talk show “Alone / Together / Pittsburgh” marks a year of in production.

Councilor Deborah Gross says city’s eviction ban is to protect public health

(0:00 — 6:12) 

Pittsburgh City Council passed a citywide eviction ban on March 2. Three days later, an organization representing landlords filed a lawsuit against city council. 

“It feels a little knee-jerk to me, that if the city moves to protect the public good, which is our responsibility, I would hope we wouldn’t have to expect a lawsuit,” says Councilor Deborah Gross, the prime sponsor of this bill. 

Gross says the council consulted with the solicitor to ensure the ban was constitutional. She also says the ordinance is tied to the city’s declaration of emergency, so once the city is no longer in a state of emergency, the eviction ban is no longer in effect. And despite statewide and CDC eviction moratoriums, “evictions are happening,” she says. 

“All of them [the moratoriums] have had pretty big, what I call, loopholes,” says Gross “There are some 120 in the city, specifically, cases that have moved all the way through the process.”

Gross says the city is seeking to help landlords and tenants, and will be putting $8.9 million toward rent relief next week.  

The ordinance does allow landlords to file an exemption to the moratorium if tenants are putting themselves or others in danger, or engaging in other criminal behavior. 

Despite pandemic-related recession, Pittsburgh may see an increase in births
(6:14 — 13:28)

A “baby bust” is predicted to follow the pandemic, meaning fewer births than usual in the year to come. But in the Pittsburgh region, things are a bit more complicated. 

“When you’re looking at all the people we counted, [births] would probably be more than last year,” says Oliver Morrison who covers health and the environment for PublicSource. “It’s not what most states who have released data have seen, and it’s not what a lot of the experts have predicted.”

Morrison says nationally, economists looking at how births have been affected by economic downturns predicted there would be 300,000 fewer births in 2021. 

“If you have less money, you have less security, you’re probably feeling less like you’re ready or want to have a child that you can support” says Morrison. “But I think there’s just a whole other set of reasons with this pandemic. You’re not sure if you’re bringing them into a safe place in the world.”

He says some national surveys have indicated that willingness to have kids are different among demographic groups: women of color and those who identify with the LGBTQ community have said they are less likely to have babies at this time.

Morrison says there may be two possible explanations for the rising Pittsburgh birth rate. 

“Some of the medical providers I talked to said ‘Maybe it has to do with the path of the virus itself, maybe how intense the virus was here compared to other places maybe changed how people perceived births.’” 

‘Alone / Together / Pittsburgh’ marks one year of production
(13:28 — 18:00)

A year ago, a group of friends launched the first cultural programming to help Pittsburgh weather the pandemic. 

“Alone / Together / Pittsburgh” is a live-streamed talk show that still runs about three nights a week. 

90.5 WESA’s Bill O’Driscoll spoke with the host, actor and barebones production’s founder Patrick Jordan. Jordan said he and collaborators Dave Mansueto and Pete Spynda initially expected a shorter run

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.


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. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at ltsutsui@wesa.fm.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Isabelle is a student at George Washington University studying Political Communication. She loves all things Pittsburgh sports and serves as a sports anchor for GW-TV. In her free time, she enjoys museum hopping and walking her dog, Stevie.
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