Homewood‘s sense of place is eroding so fast that 184 homes have been razed since 2011 and another 232 are condemned. Residents are torn. They value the building stock that attests to better days, but blight is outpacing opportunities to save what’s viable.
Just in time for the neighborhood’s biggest investment in decades, Operation Better Block staff began a door-to-door campaign to motivate hundreds of residents to face this crisis by helping to plan housing strategies.
“Demolition was the only recourse people thought we had,” said Jerome Jackson, executive director of Operation Better Block. Even if it is, he added, people need information to be comfortable with that.
A neighborhood advocacy nonprofit since 1971, Operation Better Block initiated a resident-driven plan for the use of vacant land and buildings two years ago in a test area of 46 parcels near Pittsburgh Faison K-5. The school was a crucial reason to strengthen that area, which is also near the East Busway and the ripest area for investment.