URA Affirms President Biden’s Memo to HUD on Racial Equity and Fair Housing
PITTSBURGH, PA (January 28, 2021) The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) announced today that it affirmed and is encouraged by President Biden’s Memorandum on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies.
President Biden’s memo reflects on the Federal Government’s historical role in systemic disinvestment in communities of color and policies that contributed to the racial inequality we see today. In recent years, the URA has undertaken steps to reckon with its own legacy, littered with the implementation of many ill-conceived urban renewal policies that contributed to the racial disparities currently seen in the City of Pittsburgh.
“While we can never fully repair the damage done, as inequities in one generation compound in the next, we must break the cycle by making intentional investments in communities most impacted by those harms,” URA Deputy Executive Director Diamonte Walker said.
“Today we are excited and encouraged by this memo,” said URA Executive Director Greg Flisram. “It sends a powerful message about the need to address past actions and mistakes that inform today’s reality in the national housing market. The President’s actions align with the URA’s affordable housing goals and commitment to affirmatively furthering fair housing and sets the stage for what we can accomplish in 2021.”
The URA’s Housing Opportunity Fund (HOF) Down Payment & Closing Cost Assistance Program (DPCCAP) is one example of an activity that helps to address the racial disparity of homeownership in the City of Pittsburgh by providing deferred loans to help with down payment and closing costs for first-time homebuyers in the City of Pittsburgh. Since the HOF launched the DPCCAP in 2019, 48% of homebuyers were Black head of households (compared to 43% of White homebuyers); 59% of homebuyers assisted were between 51%-80% AMI (compared to 38% who were 81-115% AMI).
The URA is working on completing the conversion of ring roads back to traditional urban street grids, as well as building or supporting projects that bridge busways and other barriers to reconnect neighborhoods. It is also attempting to leverage growth in strong areas to improve conditions in adjacent areas, in ways that protect against displacement and build indigenous wealth.
In October, Mayor William Peduto and the URA launched the “Avenues of Hope” initiative to reprioritize business district investments in diverse city neighborhoods. Avenues of Hope is a place-based, people-first approach that intervenes across all layers of successful, healthy, and sustainable Main Street development in largely Black and diverse neighborhoods across Pittsburgh, focusing on seven major business corridors. This initiative seeks to invest in existing small businesses and residents, supporting the inclusive growth of these neighborhoods.
"The work to acknowledge and dismantle historical barriers that have disenfranchised our Black communities is critical to move forward a Pittsburgh for all. With our partners in the Federal Government and at the URA, we will continue to work with our Black communities to design programs and services to support our communities and provide long overdue investments in people, businesses and infrastructure," Mayor William Peduto said.
About the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA)
The URA is the City of Pittsburgh's economic development agency, supporting the City’s economic development goals, which are designed to create a city of inclusive opportunity for residents, stakeholders, and communities. The URA is committed to creating more housing that is affordable to the average Pittsburgher; encouraging more entrepreneurship and small business development; promoting inclusive growth and quality job creation; expanding neighborhood and main streets revitalization efforts; and developing a talented workforce that is equipped with the skills of the future.