Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto Touts His First 100 Days In Office

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is looking to spur manufacturing, help poor residents open bank accounts and offer free Internet in the City-County Building, according to a report on his administration’s first 100 days.

Peduto reiterated many of the initiatives he has touted since taking office Jan. 6, but he also offered a glimpse of what he is planning among the 63 accomplishments and ideas listed in the 13-page report.

“While we have accomplished a lot in our first 100 days, we have a long way to go to realize our potential as a city poised for greatness,” Peduto said in a statement.

The mayor was in Ontario, Canada, on Monday and Tuesday attending an international bicycle summit.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5953206-74/peduto-report-pittsburgh#ixzz2z0xKUyvg
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Philadelphia’s Future In The Numbers

English: View of Philadelphia City Hall from t...

English: View of Philadelphia City Hall from the corner of Broad and Walnut Streets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of all the numbers that tell the story of Philadelphia today, one stands out as an unambiguous expression of confidence in the city’s future.

Last year, developers received building permits for 2,815 units of new residential housing, the most approved in a decade. Those units are worth an estimated $465 million, the highest annual amount on record.

Investors appear to be betting that Philadelphia’s population, which rose for the seventh straight year in 2013 to 1,553,165, will keep growing and that many of the new residents, young and old, will be looking for new homes and apartments.

There is some demographic evidence to support this expectation. In recent years, the city has experienced rapid growth in its population of young adults, many of them well-educated and upwardly mobile. In addition, an increasing number of aging baby boomers are leaving the suburbs and moving into the city. And the middle-class population appears to have stabilized after decades of decline.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140406_Philadelphia_s_future.html#Ukhw32j52iwf8tzl.99

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Report: Absence Of School Funding Formula In PA Costs Pottstown $5 Million A Year

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Borough property owners would be off the hook for generating more than $5 million in school funding this year if the state funding formula abandoned by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2010 were still in place, according to a report.

Further, as a result of that formula’s absence in calculating state education funding, Pottstown has lost more state aid in the past few years than almost any other district in Montgomery County, the report found.

At $2.5 million, only Norristown schools lost more in the last three years than the $1.5 million in state funding Pottstown has lost since 2010-11, the study found.

In an attempt to reverse the problems highlighted in that study, the Pottstown School Board on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Harrisburg to establish “a fair and equitable school funding formula.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140328/report-absence-of-school-funding-formula-in-pa-costs-pottstown-5-million-a-year

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Allentown Mayor Announces Plans To Improve Poorest Neighborhoods

English: City of Allentown

English: City of Allentown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced an initiative today to make health and safety improvements in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

The city has committed $2.5 million for such Center City improvements and has asked the business community to match or exceed that amount in donations.

Working with the Allentown School District, the city plans to focus on blight remediation, housing redevelopment, home ownership and streetscaping projects.

“I believe Allentown will become a beacon of hope and an economic model for redevelopment (that) can be replicated across the state and across the country,” Pawlowski said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/03/allentown_mayor_announces_plan.html

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Pew Report: Philadelphia’s Middle Class Is Shrinking

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Philadelphia middle class, a backbone of economic vitality that once made up the majority of residents in most of the city’s neighborhoods, has declined in steep numbers since 1970, from 59 percent to 42 percent by 2010, according to a report released Monday, the first of its kind.

The precipitous decline of adults within this long-celebrated class occurred widely across the city and most sharply before 2000, sparing only chunks of Far Northeast Philadelphia and Roxborough and smaller pockets elsewhere. Those areas remained majority middle-class as of a few years ago, said the Pew Charitable Trusts, which spearheaded the study.

The data capture what has been sensed and dreaded by policymakers for years: Philadelphia is decidedly poorer than when it was a manufacturing powerhouse, losing even a greater share of higher-taxpaying middle-class residents than the nation as a whole, and failing even to see increases in its upper-class population to match other cities that fared better.

Whether middle-class Philadelphians fell into a lower-income class, moved into the suburbs, or died is not shown by Pew’s analysis, as researchers have found such detailed tracking to be elusive.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140225_New_Pew_report_shows_city_s_middle-class_shrinking.html#GakidtL6rbcd5xYK.99

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Wilkes-Barre Panel OKs Gates For Sherman Hills

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city Planning Commission on Wednesday approved a plan to install gates, one of them staffed around the clock, as part of the overall security improvements at the low-income Sherman Hills apartment complex.

Sam Goldberg, regional manager of the apartment complex owned by Brooklyn-based Sherman Hills Realty, said the owners are eager to get started and have already set aside the money for the work.

“It’s all a matter of once we get the written approval. We do have contractors lined up,” Goldberg said. “We’ll work as fast as we can.”

The plans calls for the installation of a booth and gates for incoming and outgoing vehicles and pedestrians on Empire Court. The booth will be staffed 24 hours a day and control a second set of gates on Parkview Circle leading to the high-rise apartment building on the property. A third gate will be installed at the intersection of North Empire Court and Sherman Street, but emergency responders and police will have access to a key to gain entrance.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1205576/City-panel-OKs-gates-for-Sherman-Hills

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Wealth Gap Is Widest In Some Affluent US Cities

WASHINGTON (AP) – The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States’ most prosperous and largest cities.

The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average, according to a study released Thursday by the Brookings Institution, the Washington-based think tank. It suggests that many sources of both economic growth and income inequality have co-existed near each other for the past 35 years.

These cities may struggle in the future to provide adequate public schooling, basic municipal services because of a narrow tax base and “may fail to produce housing and neighborhoods accessible to middle-class workers and families,” the study said.

“There’s something of a relationship between economic success and inequality,” said Alan Berube, a senior fellow at Brookings. “These cities are home to some of the highest paying industries and jobs in the country.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/homepage/20140220_ap_9abeed9da7e24c51a0a078a9ca8c73b9.html#fRdwGmPM2m6ZEQji.99

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Mapping Poverty: Wealthiest And Poorest School Districts In Pennsylvania

Pottstown School District

24% of children in poverty

Estimated Total Population: 22,617
Estimated Population 5 to 17 years old: 3,560
Estimated number of children 5 to 17 years old in poverty: 861

If you click on this link, you can access a map of Pennsylvania at the bottom of the article and by clicking on your school district, you can see the results as demonstrated above for Pottstown School District:  http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/mapping-poverty-wealthiest-and-poorest-school-districts-in-pennsylvania/article_53d4e55a-9810-11e3-8d0a-001a4bcf6878.html

The map is able to be enlarged or shrunk as you see fit (works like Mapquest).  The names of cities and towns are behind the colors, you can see them which will help you find what you are looking for.   Again, make sure you use the map at the bottom of the article, not the one at the top.  Happy hunting!

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In Camden, 89 New Officers And 17 Languages

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poor...

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Camden suffers from unemployment, urban decay, poverty, and many other social issues. Much of the city of Camden, New Jersey suffers from urban decay. 日本語: ニュージャージー州カムデンのスラム. Svenska: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Kiswahili: Camden, New Jersey ni moja ya mataifa maskini zaidi katika miji ya Marekani. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Virginia Matias was a senior in high school when her uncle Miguel Espinal was shot and killed during an armed robbery at his corner store.

The robber shot Espinal in the abdomen and made off with $900 from his La Dominicana store in East Camden.

The slaying prompted Matias, now 27, to study law and justice at Rowan University with an eye toward becoming a police officer in Camden, to try to prevent similar acts of senseless violence.

This month, Matias graduated from the Camden County police academy, along with 108 others in the largest graduating class to date. Eighty-nine of the officers, including Matias, are now working for the Camden County Police Metro Division. Another class, graduating in April, will bring the force up to 411 officers, county officials said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20131228_In_Camden__89_new_officers_and_17_languages.html#DaidPhGXFz2LtawH.99

Wilkinsburg High School Suffering Teacher Shortage

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Students enrolled in chemistry class at Wilkinsburg High School are being taught by a certified art teacher.

In high school French classes, a certified health and physical education teacher is providing instruction.

Those revelations, which came in the wake of the Dec. 17 school board meeting, astonished new board President Edward J. Donovan.

“I know the way things ought to be. What I don’t know entirely is how much out of whack things are in the way we are now,” said Mr. Donovan, who is a faculty member and program director of the Chatham University‘s department of education.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2013/12/26/Wilkinsburg-High-students-learning-chemistry-from-art-teacher-using-Web-Wilkinsburg-High-suffers-teacher-shortage/stories/201312260158#ixzz2obYT2brX

Cincinnati Streetcar Plan Pits Desire For Growth Against Fiscal Restraint

Downtown Cincinnati

Downtown Cincinnati (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CINCINNATI, OH — It has been a long time since a streetcar was just a streetcar here.

Instead, a $133 million project to build a 3.6-mile streetcar line through downtown has come to represent, depending on whom you talk to, a debt trap that will sink the city or an ambitious development effort that is central to Cincinnati’s revival.

And when the debate ended last week in an unexpected last-minute victory for the streetcar proponents, it was seen as both a vote of confidence in the city’s future and a reminder of how tenuous support for the project had become.

On the brink of being shut down, the project was saved by a successful petition drive and a written commitment, provided by the Haile U.S. Bank Foundation, from about 15 private backers to pay up to $9 million in operating costs, if needed, over the line’s first decade.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/23/us/cincinnati-streetcar-plan-pits-desire-for-growth-against-fiscal-restraint.html?_r=0

Spotlight’s Off, But Reading’s Challenges Remain

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The journey to tell a television Christmas story in poverty-stricken Reading began two summers ago in holiday-decorated Hope Lutheran Church on North Front Street.

A national TV audience, estimated at more than 1.4 million homes, observed the 2012 Christmas Eve broadcast of “One Christmas Story: People Rich in Spirit,” a production of Odyssey Networks, a New York-based multifaith media coalition.

It was a story designed to depict Reading’s hope and faith amid economic challenges. At the time, it sparked energy and excitement.

But, one year later, at Christmas 2013, many of the city’s social challenges remain unchanged.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131222/NEWS/312229955/1052#.UrbPPPRDsxI

Conference Generates Ideas For Tackling Poverty In Reading

, U.S. Congressman (R-Pennsylvania, 1997-present)

, U.S. Congressman (R-Pennsylvania, 1997-present) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fatherless families, a lack of jobs and school dropout rates contribute to poverty and local economic conditions, U.S. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts said Monday.

“Families with fathers and mothers are the best anti-poverty program,” said the Chester County Republican, whose district includes Reading. “Saying these simple things can land you in all kinds of trouble.”

He was speaking at a conference on economic inequality that he organized at Reading Area Community College.

In an interview afterward, Pitts listed some points raised during the four-hour event that he will pursue.

“We will come up with some projects,” Pitts said.

While some of the 75 political, business and nonprofit leaders who participated agreed with Pitts’ points, several made their own arguments for improving the economy in Reading, where the 2012 poverty rate of 40.5 percent made it the second most impoverished city in the country behind Detroit.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131210/NEWS/312109974/1052#.UqeN0fRDsxI

Pittsburgh Suburbs Suffering Poverty At High Rate

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Poverty is growing at a faster rate in the suburbs than in the cities, and the Pittsburgh area is ahead of the curve — but not in a good way.

Nationally, about 55 percent of the population living in poverty is outside of cities, but in Allegheny County, 61 percent of people living in poverty are in the suburbs, and the number rises to 79 percent when the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is measured. That area includes Allegheny and its six surrounding counties.

Those numbers come from Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and co-author of “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America.”

Ms. Kneebone said suburban poverty has been growing since 2000 and became more significant than urban poverty even before the economic meltdown of 2008 and 2009. The recession exacerbated it.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/11/18/Suburbs-suffering-at-high-rate/stories/201311180136#ixzz2l1MynVBs

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metro Area Food Stamp Use Up 75 Percent In 5 Years

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food stamp distribution in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area exploded by 75 percent between 2007 and 2012.

The number of households receiving federal assistance under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program ballooned to 35,256 in 2012 from 20,195 in 2007, Census Bureau data reveal.

SNAP stamp benefits in 2012 went to 14 percent of the residences in Lackawanna County, 17 percent in Luzerne County and 20 percent in Wyoming County. More than 90,300 people in the metro area participate in the food-stamp program, according to federal data cited by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s office.

“Those numbers are staggering,” said Teri Ooms, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, a regional research and analysis organization. “This is the eroding of the middle class.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/food-stamp-use-up-75-percent-in-5-years-1.1583475

Study: Deep Poverty On The Rise In Delaware And Camden Counties

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poor...

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Camden suffers from unemployment, urban decay, poverty, and many other social issues. Much of the city of Camden, New Jersey suffers from urban decay. 日本語: ニュージャージー州カムデンのスラム. Svenska: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Kiswahili: Camden, New Jersey ni moja ya mataifa maskini zaidi katika miji ya Marekani. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deep poverty appears to be accelerating in Delaware and Camden Counties, as the poorest of the poor scramble for rent, heat, and food.

In the city of Chester, Donald Grover, 47, and his wife, Melissa Zirilli, 43, can’t do their jobs – he because the home-remodeling firm he works for cut his time from 60 hours a week to nearly nothing, she because debilitating seizures keep her from being a nurse’s aide.

In the city of Camden, Mark Woodall, 49, once a construction worker and a trained cook, now makes $10 an hour in a soup kitchen as he and his out-of-work fiancee are forced to live on a street he says is thronged with armed teenagers “without morals.”

“Lack of work is really, really hurting us,” said Zirilli, who lives with her husband and three children on about $6,000 a year.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131025_Study__Deep_poverty_on_the_rise_in_Delaware_and_Camden_Counties.html#GSyaLqbobqbX9VUX.99

First Nonprofit Supermarket Opens In Chester

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHESTER, PA. — In Chester, a city where hard times often plow under shiny promises, a hunger-relief agency’s pledge to build America’s first nonprofit supermarket was greeted skeptically at first.

But Philabundance may be confounding local doubters. Its Fare & Square grocery store, seven years in the making, is ready to open its doors this morning, a rare oasis in what has been called a food desert.

“No one believed this was coming,” said Denina Hood, a Chester native and an employee of the store that will become the first supermarket in town since 2001. “But this store isn’t going anywhere.”

Usually in the business of distributing donated food to pantries in the Delaware Valley, Philabundance, a nonprofit, has augmented its mission and become a store owner, charging prices 8 percent to 10 percent lower than small urban grocers.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/first-nonprofit-supermarket-opens-in-struggling-pa-city-705230/#ixzz2gCesc07x

Moving Harrisburg Forward Might Be Impossible Without Settling Present

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Dauphin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The forum was supposed to focus on the future of Harrisburg. And to a large extent, it did. But the reality of city’s present casts a long shadow over any discussion in the capital these days.

At some point in the next three months, it is likely the Harrisburg recovery plan, whether you support it or not, is going to go into effect, essentially eliminating the city’s massive debts and putting its government back on the path to some form of solvency.

How much it is able to carry that past the next four years remains unknown. But the future of the city, whether it stagnates or begins a new renaissance, will largely be in its own hands, unencumbered from debt obligations.

At its core, argues developer Ralph Vartan, is a simple equation. Of the 58,000 people who work in the city, only about 10,000 live in the city. That is further unbalanced by the fact that over the last several decades the regional population has almost doubled, while Harrisburg’s has stagnated.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/09/moving_harrisburg_forward_may.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Norristown Pie Festival Is A Delicious Way To Aid Food Cupboards

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN, PA — Local churches are the barometers of economic disparity in the West End. The once affluent community, with its stately homes lining Haws Avenue, has become a different sort of place. On streets lined with houses whose kitchens once knew bounty are the hungry citizens of contemporary Norristown.

The Rev. Sandra Etemad, rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, described area residents as “a lot of really hard working people that don’t have enough money.”

There are a number of food ministries in Norristown that work to alleviate hungry neighborhoods, from All Saints’ twice monthly Saturday dinners to Haws Avenue Methodist’s Sunday lunch.

The purpose of these meals is twofold. They serve those searching for sustenance and act as meeting places, where parishioners and other community members can gather for company. There are those who attend the meals for just a few minutes of conversation.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20130919/norristown-pie-festival-is-a-delicious-way-to-aid-food-cupboards