State of the Land Report: January 2023

State of the Land Report

The State of the Land Report is our monthly update where we will be educating and sharing out about everything you need to know about vacant land policy in the City of Pittsburgh!

State of the Land Updates

In Response: Fighting blight by fixing up homes could bring down Philly gun violence, new study shows

Caption: Photo depicts a house that used to stand at the corner of Kelly Street and Newman Way Photos Courtesy of: Google Maps (Left Image) and Pittsburgh History Archives (right)

In the City of Pittsburgh, we have an estimated 30,000 vacant properties, and around 13,000 are the City of Pittsburgh-owned. Hypervacancy disproportionately impacts Black neighborhoods resulting in continuous harm to mental, physical, financial, environmental, social, and community health

The recently published article by Sammy Caiola raises prominent questions regarding the impacts of fighting the impacts of vacant, abandoned, and deteriorating properties in the Philadelphia region. The article breaks down the findings from a three-year study comparing the outcomes of neighborhood safety based on the maintenance and care placed on 258 abandoned houses.

  • The sample houses were broken into three categories including a control (no maintenance), some maintenance (minimal litter pick and vegetation work), and full maintenance (replacing windows, continued vegetation management, and continued litter pick-ups).
  • The study showed a 13% reduction in gun violence around the properties with full maintenance vs. no reduction for the other two study groups. (Caiola, 2023)

Along with improving conditions of abandoned homes, Caiola discussed the many known positive impacts of greening vacant properties alongside improving.  From our Literature Review, Understanding the Effects of Vacant Lots on Neighborhood Health, the benefits to communities from greening spaces are endless.

  • Distressed communities with high concentrations of vacant lots experience a disparity in access to the safe, clean, activated open space and maintained vacant structures that residents in higher-income communities benefit from.
  • Access to these kinds of open spaces and better maintenance methods have broad benefits, including positive impacts related to social cohesion, mental health, reduced crime, community investment, physical health, and opportunities for open-ended play.
  • Greening projects on vacant land have the potential to bridge a distinct gap faced by residents of distressed areas.

There must be a drastic increase in urgency from the City of Pittsburgh to get vacant land back into the hands of residents. A comprehensive solution will be iterative, and innovative, and draw from the unique strengths of Pittsburgh’s resilient communities. All adjustments and updates to the land recycling system must produce equitable outcomes that increase social and economic opportunity for all residents.

Policy Updates 

Urban Redevelopment Authority and Land Bank Updates

Tri-COG Land Bank report: economic damage from Allegheny County’s more than 22,800 vacant properties

TCLB 2022 Report


City Council and City of Pittsburgh Updates and Meeting Highlights

Updated: Housing Authority pledges $80 million to Hill District community revamp

Gainey looks to revamp Art Commission after removing all prior commissioners

Pittsburgh Council approves ‘food justice fund’

Pittsburgh Land Bank scales back goals after losing $3M in proposed ARPA funding

Officials say this is it: 2023 is the year for Pittsburgh’s Land Bank


Community Updates

Family farm inspires healthy eating in Pittsburgh’s Manchester neighborhood

Building Solidarity And Strength On The Streets Of Pittsburgh And Chicago


State of Pennsylvania Updates

Editorial: Make lead testing mandatory

Fighting blight by fixing up homes could bring down Philly gun violence, new study shows

Advocacy Network

Thank you for subscribing to our advocacy network, if you have not already done so please subscribe here.

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 management system. The lack of a comprehensive and unified strategy to care for vacant lots disproportionately affects low-income communities of color.

We must ensure that the process of land recycling and maintenance is conducted equitably, transparently, and through an anti-racist framework. Help make change happen in local, state, and federal land-use policies, voice your concerns about vacant land in your community, share how you want to see vacant land transformed, and support your neighbors in obtaining land access and ownership.

Join Our Advocacy Network!

Additional Resources

Celebrating 15 Years of Grounded

The 15 Years of Grounded campaign celebrates our organization’s founding by highlighting 15 projects that have helped communities and residents find new ways to get outside, relieve stress, and beautify their neighborhoods. Come back daily to see which projects we highlight as we look back at the past 15 years. Help keep us Grounded and donate here.



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