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If you're poor, long for the past

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

Homelessness Fig1
It was better to be poor in 1970 than it is today and it’s not because commodities were less expensive; salaries were lower, too. The reason? There was more affordable housing than people who needed it.
 
The middle class was strong in 1970. No one needs to tell a growing number of people who used to consider themselves middle-class what the lay of the land is today. For everyone else, the message should be getting louder as more working families become homeless, sit at food pantries waiting to be processed and rely on relatives for a place to stay.
 
The Atlantic Cities reports on the growing crisis, complete with eye-widening charts in Emily Badger’s “How the Poor Are Squeezed Out of the Most Affordable Housing.”
 
It is estimated, she writes, “that about half of the homeless in the U.S. today work in some form. The problem is that their income doesn’t cover housing.
 
“In part, what’s happened is that families who used to be middle-class are increasingly looking for cheaper affordable rental housing, crowding out the most low-income from the units they have the best chance of affording. Housing aid also hasn’t kept pace with the size of the population that needs it. Today, only one in four households eligible for a rental subsidy is able to get one.”
 
The article prompted several good comments, one from reader Josh Michtom, who wrote, “The problem is that there seems to be no corresponding limit on how poorly people can be paid. So maybe the solution to the housing crisis needs to include a dramatic increase in the minimum wage.”
 
The push-back from businesses, especially small ones, is that they couldn't make their business pay if they had to pay workers more. Big businesses, like Wal-Mart, have no excuse. But the problem will call on more public money for a solution, whether we subsidize housing or subsidize small businesses so they can pay a livable wage.
 
One way or another, this problem needs a fix. How much of America does America want to see sleeping in the streets? This is supposed to be a great, strong country. If we want to stay that way, we will have to suck it up and share the wealth.  
 
 
Chart from the Center for American Progress
 

 

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Greenfield parade tonight

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

parade
Greenfield’s 21st annual community holiday parade is tonight, and if all goes well, snow, sleet and ice won’t be a factor. After all, Greenfield folks are pretty intrepid from living on ski runs that pass for streets.
 
The line-up is at 6p and begins moving down Greenfield Avenue at 7p. Murray and Hazelwood Avenue will be closed for the staging and Greenfield Avenue, from Loretta to Lydia, will close when the parade begins. The parade follows Murray Avenue to Hazelwood Avenue to Greenfield Avenue.
 
Mayor-elect Bill Peduto, county executive Rich Fitzgerald and city Councilman Corey O’Connor will be walking the route. The councilman’s late father, former Mayor Bob O’Connor, helped organize and initiate the first parade. It is being presented by the Greenfield Community Association’s events committee.
 
Four local schools will send marching bands into the fray, with floats, community groups and local legislators. Michael Bartley of WQED will be the emcee at the terminus at St. Rosalia Church. 
 
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will be collecting donations for the holidays.
 
Zambelli fireworks, paid for and/or sanctioned by Councilman O’Connor, state Rep. Dan Frankel and state Sen. Jay Costa, will be bursting in air from Magee Park.
 
Marino Chiropractic and Szmidt’s Old World Deli will provide refreshments. A party and open house after the parade will be held at Greenfield Presbyterian Church at Coleman and Alger. 
 
For more information, contact Mitch Margaria of the Greenfield Community Association — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 412-953-6990.
 
Photo by Mitch Margaria

 

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Bloomfield's lights: They're baaack!

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

 
decorations
Bloomfield’s Christmas decorations are up for the first time in two years, thanks to funds from about 20 merchants and the sponsorship of the Allegheny Health Network.
 
Bloomfield Development Corp. is adding another reason to visit the neighborhood. Its Luminare Celebration features a "holiday shop walk" on Saturday the 14th, a belated Small Business Saturday for visitors to Liberty Avenue. The BDC will hand out cookies and water on the streets and many shops will offer discounts throughout the day, from noon to 5 p.m.
 
Santa Claus will be at Tessaro’s restaurant — on the corner of Liberty and Taylor Street — because Santa’s jolly old soul craves one of the city’s best hamburgers.  Frank D’Amico will guest bar tend at Poppy’s Bistro and Pub, the restaurant that succeeded D’Amicos Place at 4744 Liberty.
 
Many storefronts are decorated for company. And when the sun goes down, the Christmas lights will come on in Pittsburgh's Little Italy again.

 

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Shoot and tweet parking lots

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

 
carscarscars
 
 
In his blog post “The Fool Proof City,” Charles Marohn of Strong Towns writes that the best way to ensure your city’s sustainability is to stick with the tried and true method that worked for civilizations over thousands of years... before cars and the highway system.
 
OK, so we can’t get rid of cars and the highway system and might not want to but we can do better by doing less.
 
If you're out shopping this Friday, you probably like really big parking lots, but get your mind around this challenge that Marohn has put out for Black Friday:
 
“... we invite you to participate in the #BlackFridayParking Twitter event. We have all heard how our massive parking lots are sized for the day after Thanksgiving. We want to show just how ridiculous that is. 
 
“We invite Strong Towns advocates from all over the country to take pictures of parking lots this Friday and then post them to Twitter with the hashtag #BlackFridayParking. 
 
“We’ll collect those and share them in a format that everyone advocating against ridiculous parking standards can use.”
 
 
 Photo from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington
 
 
 

 

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Old tavern plan vs. new tavern plan

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

4025Butler2013 
A three-storefront building from 1835-1840 will be considered for city historic status at next week’s Historic Review Commission hearing. 
 
The Lawrenceville Stakeholders have nominated 4025-4029 Butler St., in reaction to plans by its current owner, John Pergal, to expand the adjacent Thunderbird Cafe and demolish part of the historic building. 
 
Walkabout couldn’t reach Mr. Pergal in time for this post but will update if we do. 
 
The hearing is is at 1 p.m. Dec. 4 in the Robin Building at 200 Ross St. Downtown
 
Ms. Peterson described the describing the building at issue as “a two story brick commercial structure with modest Greek Revival influence.”
 
 
John Naser, a native of Germany who became influential and wealthy, operated it as a tavern by the 1850s and his son operated it into the early 20th century.  It is currently home to a flower shop, a yoga studio and a hat store.
 
The photo at right was taken in 1909.old4025butler
 
Mr. Pergal has proposed a new restaurant and an expansion of the T-bird from 5,754 to 9,100 square feet. His plans call for demolishing one adjacent building and adding two- and three-story additions to two others that would include four upstairs apartments. 
 
At a public hearing before the zoning board in April, a small group of residents urged the board to deny special exceptions and variances for a second restaurant and off-site parking. They also lamented a larger presence for the club.
 
In the nomination report, house historian Carol Peterson writes that the building has merit by the historical activity it generated as an early Lawrenceville business, “significant to the development of Lawrenceville,” and for its architectural style “distinguished by innovation, rarity, uniqueness or overall quality of design, detail, materials or craftsmanship.”
 
She cites its “unique location and distinctive physical appearance” and that “it retains integrity of [original] location.”
 
Top photo by Keith Cochran
Historic photo from the Historic Pittsburgh Archives

 

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