Pittsburgh has been named one of the most livable and most affordable cities in the nation due to its vibrant neighborhoods, world class arts scene, top-rated health systems and growing tech industry. You can’t drive or walk down certain streets without navigating around neon orange construction cones and towering cranes. But is all this development equitable? Is everyone, including persons of color, low-wealth residents and immigrants, experiencing these shining statistics? 

No. This was once again confirmed by a recent white paper entitled Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race.  Sobering statistics such as these fuels All-In Pittsburgh’s work. The broad-base coalition drafted a roadmap to drive policies and systems and create communities that are healthy, safe and filled with opportunities. Communities that connect residents to jobs and services. Communities that reflect long-standing cultures and allow long-term and new neighbors to thrive. With more than 50 people from more than 30 organizations, All-in Pittsburgh formed a core team, a steering committee and two action teams—housing and employment/entrepreneurship. Together, the coalition has begun to make headway on this journey. 

Here’s a look at the successes since the coalition inception. 

Successful Advocacy

  • URA Budget Restoration: Twenty-two organizations within the All-In Pittsburgh collaborative, in addition to many other advocacy groups, appealed to the City of Pittsburgh concerning cuts to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s 2019 budget. The advocacy efforts resulted in $2.5 million being restored to the URA budget. 
  • House Bill 163 Passage: All-in Pittsburgh supported the statewide advocacy efforts for the passage of House Bill 163, which was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 24, 2018. The law ends the mandatory suspension of driver’s licenses for low-level, non-driving offenses in Pennsylvania. Previous suspensions annually impacted more than 30,000 Pennsylvanians, disproportionately low-income and people of color, primarily African Americans. This legislation is critical for people to get to and from their jobs, medical appointments, support services and more. Currently, All-in Pittsburgh is advocating for this law to be retroactive.
  • Equity Legislation for City Departments Passage: Through a partnership with the Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition, All-In Pittsburgh advocated for the City to require its departments to submit equity measurements with budget requests. Thus far, at least three departments tying equity to budgets. The Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) is providing technical assistance to the city to further develop these measurements.

Impactful Investments

  • Grant Awards: All-in Pittsburgh Member Neighborhood Allies invested $330,000 in Equitable Development Catalytic Grants
    • $15,000 ELDI Catapult from Start-up to Storefront
    • $15,000 Housing Alliance- Tenant Protections Policy Analysis 
    • $75,000 Hill District Consensus Group’s Tenant Leadership Developments
    • $75,000 Omicelo Cares’ Real Estate Co-Powerment Series 
    • $75,000 Riverside Center for Innovation’s BizFIT Plus, MWDBE Development
    • $75,000 Trade Institute of Pittsburgh’s Workforce Housing 

Institutional & Organizational Commitments 

  • Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA): The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) adopted All-In Pittsburgh’s definition* of equitable development, instituted an internal Equity Working Group, and underwent an assessment to ensure that the principles of design, justice and equitable development are integrated into internal workplace culture and external community interaction.. 
  • Riverside Center for Innovation: adopted the All-In Pittsburgh definition of equitable development and embedded it into its programming, including BizFit which helps minority, women and veteran entrepreneurs in the construction industry grow sustainable enterprises 

Moving forward, All-in Pittsburgh continues to form partnerships and increase visibility, support and implementation of equitable development. Formalized partnerships include the Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition (PBEOC), through which All-In has passed two pieces of legislation, and is now working on a Housing Impact Statement for new development. Community Based Organizations, such as the Beltzhoover Consensus Group, Hill District Consensus Group, Homewood Children’s Village, Kingsley Association and the Perry Hilltop Citizens Council/Fineview Citizens Council, connect coalition activities to residents, specifically those experiencing poverty. Additionally, All-in Pittsburgh partnered with the Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable (CEIR), to adopt a shared definition of the Rooney Rule that is comprehensive and has measurable results. The Comprehensive Rooney Rule advocates that African-Americans and people of color be considered for all positions from entry level through the “C-Suite” and for all contracting/procurement opportunities.

*All-in Pittsburgh Equitable Development Definition: Equitable Development is a positive development strategy that ensures everyone participates in and benefits from the region’s economic transformation- especially low-income residents, communities of color, immigrants and others at risk of being left behind. It requires an intentional focus on eliminating racial inequities and barriers and making accountable and catalytic investments to assure that lower-wealth residents: live in healthy, safe opportunity-rich neighborhoods that reflect their culture (and are not displaced from them); connect to economic and ownership opportunities; and have voice and influence in the decisions that shape their neighborhoods.

Written by Heather Hopson of Motormouth Multimedia