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Eviction filings are on the rise in Allegheny County, now that pandemic rental assistance has ended

Michael Dwyer

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Eviction filings are rising again, where does this leave county residents?
(0:00 - 6:49)

In an effort to keep renters in their homes during the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued atemporary eviction moratorium. Municipalities across the country distributed emergency rental relief, and in Allegheny County the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) ended July 31.

McKeesport Housing Authority filed78 new eviction cases in July, the most of any public agency. Eric Jankiewicz, a reporter for PublicSource, spoke with Steve Bucklew, the executive director of the McKeesport Housing Authority.

“They believe that evictions or filing evictions are the only answer because they need to retrain the public, retrain tenants that they need to start paying rent again,” Jankiewicz says. “There seems to be some belief that they could pay the rent, but they choose not to, at least from McKeesport Housing Authority’s point of view.”

Through the ERAP assistance, roughly 18,000 households in the county received financial assistance.

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Large genetic study identifies new genes linked to autism
(6:57 - 14:27)

A recently published study identified 185 genes related to autism. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard and MIT scanned the genomes of 150,000 participants to learn more about brain development. The recent findings could help to explain the wider range of cases across the autism spectrum.

Bernie Devlin is a professor of psychiatry and clinical and translational science at Pitt and one of the coauthors. He says this study could open the door to new therapies.

“About ten or 12 years ago, we actually identified two genes that were involved and associated with autism.” Devlin says. “Through some mathematical extrapolations, which is what our specialty is, we determined that actually there were hundreds of genes involved in autism and that we would likely be able to detect that if we amassed a big enough sample.”

The researchers acknowledge there is still a lot to learn, such as the function of each gene in the expression of autism.

How to squish the invasive spotted lanternfly
(14:39 - 22:30)

Pennsylvania issued a kill on sight order for the spotted lanternfly, and if you’ve been walking around the City of Pittsburgh this summer, you’ve probably stumbled across these gray, black and red insects.

If you’ve tried to squish them, you know they can jump.

Kelli Hoover, professor of entomology at Penn State University, says the pests should be confronted head on.

“They're not very good at jumping backwards. So, come at them from the front and you should be able to stomp it,” Hoover says.

If you come across a spotted lanternfly, you can report it to the state.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.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.

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