Gaining Ground: Grounded in Advocacy

Grounded is working to improve the condition of vacant lots by developing sustainable solutions that can
address the environmental and racial injustices currently entrenched in our property maintenance system. The lack of a comprehensive and unified strategy to care for vacant lots disproportionately affects low-income communities of color.

Gaining Ground is a grassroots outreach program focused on (1) building a sense of urgency andcommunity understanding of ineffective vacant land maintenance practices, and (2) building st

rategies that are grounded in equity, transparency, and accountability. Grounded will develop accessible tools to build community capacity in order for residents to weigh in on the City’s property maintenance and land recycling systems and generate equitable solutions to the challenges.

There are two major outcomes for this project. The first is to develop a set of tools, including a playbook for residents, that is user-friendly and accessible. These materials will help demystify the complex process of vacant land management and identify ways that residents can engage with this issue. The second major outcome is to build a broad coalition of support, including residents, members of the city council, and community-based organizations that can mobilize to create changes to the land management system.

Ostensibly, this project serves all members of the Pittsburgh community. Maintaining vacant land can prevent nearly $2,500 per parcel in city policy, fire, and code enforcement services, allowing the city to better focus their tax dollars. Though all residents would benefit from a comprehensive approach to maintaining vacant land, the benefits are acute in neighborhoods with high concentrations of vacant properties. Overgrown vacant lots are more than a nuisance to neighbors, they create health and safety hazards, decrease adjacent property values, impact neighborhood cohesion and pride, and are disproportionately located in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The real impacts of this issue are felt at a residential-level, affecting homeowners, business owners, and residents, and are compounded by creating entire neighborhoods where basic maintenance needs are not being met.

Read Grounded's Vision for Vacant Land Justice