State of the Land Report: June 2022 Posted on July 6, 2022 by Matthew Nealon Share this post Welcome to the State of the Land Report! June 2022 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! The Magical Garden Meadow on Meadow Street in Larimer 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. State of the Land Updates Image via Bend Redmond Habitat for Humanity ReStore Click here to learn more about the resources available from the federal government for prospective homebuyers. Pittsburgh Black Homeownership Report Findings The Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group makes three main recommendations to help close the divide between the Black homeownership rate in Pittsburgh of 31.4% and that of non-Hispanic white homeowners at 73.0%. Legislation to create a statewide Community Reinvestment Act to apply to banks, credit unions, and other non-depository lenders with a keen focus on racial equality. The current federal CRA ratings of “satisfactory” or “outstanding” do not accurately represent the lending practices with 99% falling under these two ratings despite continued inequitable lending practices. The PCRG has compiled a list of local mortgage products geared towards low and moderate-income & first-time homebuyers. See page 18 of the report. The PCRG also recommends more funding and capacity for the Pittsburgh Land Bank to address the loss of affordable housing with robust governmental resources and a focus on racial equality best practices at a scalable level. Growing wage disparities place an undue burden on low and middle income earners leading to a perpetual decline in homeownership and an increase in displacement risk (the share of a population at risk of being seriously displaced in the wake of a natural disaster or similar event). The PCRG recommends local economic leaders address this growing disparity to prevent the displacement of Pittsburgh’s Black population into other municipalities within Allegheny county. Supporting homes and landowners is the best means to keep these communities together. Call To Action Tell us your land acquisition story! Have you tried to acquire vacant land? Do you want to try to acquire land? What is your feedback? Tell us your story! Email us Policy@groundedpgh.org Policy Updates City Council Meeting Highlights Pittsburgh City Council holds land bank legislation with concerns their oversight is being removed, among others. Pittsburgh City Council members put legislation designed to streamline the transfer of city properties between entities like the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Pittsburgh Land Bank on hold citing oversight concerns. State of Pennsylvania Updates Senate Bill 811 was unanimously approved by the Pennsylvania State Senate. The bill is sponsored by Senator Wayne Fontana and will provide Allegheny County land banks with a streamlined sheriff sale process in addition to shortening the redemption period of a property. Steward Spotlight – Talking Lots with Raqueeb Ajamu-Osagboro Talking Lots is a podcast series that explores the issue of vacant lots in the Pittsburgh region. We present stories of vacant land restoration and activation as told through the voices of residents, community leaders, partners, and officials. Vacant lots are often overlooked but these stories prove that beautiful things can happen when we take care of the land that surrounds us. Today’s episode introduces Raqueeb Ajamu-Osagboro from the Hill District in the city of Pittsburgh. Raqueeb is the founder and executive director of Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op or BUGS. Raqueeb is an urban agriculturist, an activist, and a mother. She has been a fierce advocate for the well-being of underserved urban Black communities. Tune-in to learn her perspective and relation to vacant land. Listen to the full podcast below or here What is Grounded Staff Reading This Month? Why The Racial Wealth Gap Is So Hard To Close Additional Resources Celebrating 15 Years of GroundedThe 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.