Getting a Handle On Your Housing Stock Posted on December 2, 2015 by wpengine Share this post We’ve been talking a lot this year about the Pittsburgh LocalData Collaborative (PLDC), the need for accessible data in our region and GTECH’s role in making sure accurate information is used in community development decisions. Many organizations, from PCRG to Lawrenceville United, have partnered with us through the PLDC to launch innovative data collection projects over the past year and the results have been astounding. Since 2014, partnering organizations in the PLDC have collected 35,252 data points across 44 communities on everything from the condition of properties to the location of community gardens. This information is critical in making decisions that impact residents in real-time. To highlight this success, we were asked to present about LocalData and the PLDC at the Homes Within Reach Conference in Harrisburg this month. The three day conference was a time for individuals and organizations in our region to come together to hear about best practices in rebuilding home-ownership, tackling blight, revitalizing neighborhoods and addressing homelessness. The conference represented a great opportunity for the Pittsburgh team to showcase one of the many great projects that have been made possible using LocalData. The presentation was called “Getting a Handle On Your Housing Stock” and centered around the chronic issues of vacancy and blight in the Mon Valley. The presenters were James Snow, Project Manager at GTECH; Liz Kozub of the Turtle Creek Valley COG; and Kyle Thauvette, the Borough Manager of West Homestead. A staggering 42% of the properties in the forty or so municipalities represented in the Mon Valley are classified as “blighted,” costing the region tens of millions of dollars annually in direct and indirect costs. Realizing the magnitude of the issue, the Tri COG Collaborative (of which Turtle Creek Valley COG is a part) launched the Healthy Homes Analysis. The Healthy Homes Analysis is a survey of all blighted and vacant properties in five municipalities in the Mon Valley with a complementary assessment of what it would take in terms of dollars to get these properties back to a stabilized state. This summer, a team of interns surveyed more than 8,000 properties in the Mon Valley using LocalData. The result was a wealth of information on the condition of properties in those municipalities selected for the analysis. Maps, like the one shown below right, were created to help visualize the pervasiveness of blight in communities like Homestead. The presentation highlighted this process, and many of the findings of the study. While the analysis has not yet been completed, the collaborative process for collecting, storing and standardizing data was a lesson worth sharing. Kyle Thauvette, the West Homestead Borough Manager, may have said it best when he was discussing a large, but blighted property in his community. When speaking about Mesta Mansion (pictured below) he said, “This data is critical to understanding the health of the borough. It allows me to better allocate precocious resources towards structures and lots that either need the most attention, or have the best opportunity for redevelopment. This information is key to growth.” You can find out more about the Homes Within Reach Conference by visiting the PA Housing Alliance website or by visiting the conference’s website here.