2 Feb

February 2016 Newsletter

Table of Contents

RCI Community Leader Spotlight: Jamie Cozza, Sharpsburg 

Making Our Trips Count: Transit Survey Results Released

6,000+ Reasons Why the Smithfield Superstop Matters

Important Dates for the 2016 Community Development Summit

Don’t Forget – Submit Your Session for the 2016 Summit!

PCRG Partners With City on Responsible Banking Ordinance Implementation

February Events and Announcements



Community Leader Spotlight on Jamie Cozza

Last modified on 2016-02-11 14:40:18 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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Jamie Cozza has been an active and engaged supporter of PCRG’s Reimagining Communities Initiative since its expansion into Sharpsburg in early 2015. Whether she was introducing our staff to Sharpsburg residents, persuading community members to fill out resident experience surveys, or volunteering with community meetings, Jamie has always recognized the importance of engaging residents throughout the community development process.

How long have you lived in Sharpsburg?

In July, it will be twenty years but I’ve been visiting Sharpsburg my entire life. My grandmother lived here.

In your opinion, what makes your community special?

It’s rich history. Heinz was founded here! The community does a good job at recognizing the rich history every year with the Guyasuta Festival in Kennedy Park. It’s a chance to hang out with your neighbors, eat delicious food, all the while remembering Sharpsburg’s roots.

What is one thing you would like to change in the community?

I would like to see less garbage on the street, and a door-to-door recycling program!

What is your day job?

Library Clerk at the Sharpsburg Community Library. I’ve been working here for 15 years and I love it! The people are the best; it is a small close-knit community where everyone knows each other.

How are you involved in your community?

Besides working at the library, I’m an active member of the Sharpsburg Community Garden, and volunteer with Circles Sharpsburg.

Interesting fact about yourself?

I am an avid cookie jar collector and a thrift store enthusiast.



Making Our Trips Count

Last modified on 2016-02-09 17:56:57 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Pittsburgh, PA – The 2015 Make My Trip Count survey results are out, and while driving alone may be the single-largest preferred mode, it’s not in the majority. Especially in Downtown, transit is a real contender for the mode choice throne. Biking and walking are also growing, and fast. Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group lauds the MMTC survey because it further reinforces the need for expanded, more robust transit, biking, and walking infrastructure, and not just in Downtown and Oakland. Access and development built around non-auto modes are in demand.

“This survey makes clear that transit, biking, and walking are indispensable to a functioning Pittsburgh-region economy,” noted Chris Sandvig, PCRG Regional Policy Director.  “Commuters have spoken – nearly 21,000 of them – and they are reinforcing our message that the region needs to invest in non-auto modes at levels similar to the car.”

Sandvig also noted walking and biking’s importance, especially in Oakland.  “Nearly 13% of Oakland commuters do not use a motorized vehicle as their primary mode, and all over, this is the fastest-growing mobility segment.  This reinforces just how important better biking and walking infrastructure is in both job centers.  This isn’t just some fringe group, and this really reinforces what we’ve been saying all along.  Bikes are here to stay, and we all walk to our destination once we park, lock up, or get off the bus.”

PCRG, through its GoBurgh programming, advocates for increased mobility choices throughout Allegheny County. The survey data is important, it says, because it reinforces the need for its GoBurgh programming and highlights the need for non-auto investment strategies not just in the region’s job centers, but in the communities where our region’s employees live – especially communities where the vast majority of residents don’t have access to a car.

“(MMTC) respondents represent a broad cross section of Allegheny County community locations and types,” noted Sandvig. “These trips originate in our urban neighborhoods and suburban communities. Shouldn’t we be changing our street investment strategies there as well as in the core? This reinforces our need to change our infrastructure investment way of thinking if our region is to continue to grow, attract new talent, and do so in a way that doesn’t leave those most vulnerable behind. Everyone plays a part, and everyone can benefit.”

Make My Trip Count is a strategic effort to generate up-to-date information about how Pittsburgh-region commuters regularly travel to work or school, and to and figure out how those daily trips can be improved. PCRG was one of a dozen MMTC collaborating partners.  The effort was spearheaded by the Green Building Alliance’s 2030 Districts initiative. Survey results can be found at makemytripcount.org.

For more information about PCRG’s work with mobility, transportation, and transit, visit the GoBurgh website.

ContactChris Sandvig, Regional Policy Director
M: 412-728-3339
E: csandvig@pcrg.org

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Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) is a coalition of leaders working for economic justice and equitable resources to revitalize the Pittsburgh region. PCRG utilizes its strengths of engagement, advocacy and policy formulation to focus its efforts on ensuring equitable access to land, capital, and mobility choices to improve the health and wealth of communities.

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You can also download a PDF copy of this press release here.

Click here to visit the Make My Trip Count website to see the survey results.

 



This Big Bus Stop is Such a Big Deal: 6,000+ reasons why the Smithfield Superstop Matters

Last modified on 2016-02-08 19:51:06 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

If you spend any time near Downtown Pittsburgh’s Sixth and Smithfield corner, you’ve probably noticed the sidewalk extension installed earlier this year.  What that’s all about was revealed this week, as Envision Downtown transformed it from simple bus stop into a full-on, street-level transit station. We couldn’t be happier.

Why?  For over 6,000 reasons, plus a couple more.  And all of them are huge.

Every weekday, 6,500 people access Downtown via this corner. Like everyone else, they’re going to work, to school, to shop, to appointments.  In other words, living their lives, spending money, and making Downtown more vibrant.  They’re spending their – and the City’s – money wisely by leaving their cars at home, or not even owning a car, and they deserve something better than a sign on a stick.

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Photo Courtesy Pittsburghers for Public Transit

Improving transit’s visibility also improves Downtown quality of life – and, thereby business viability.  The new superstop could help improve pedestrian access through the area and to nearby businesses.  The design itself is also not only an accessibility improvement; it’s an image improvement.  It helps put its busiest route, the East Busway’s, more on par with the T that runs beneath it.  The East Busway is rapid transit, a major asset of the Port Authority system, and should be given the same respect as its light rail counterpart.  Investing in transit increases ridership and its attractiveness, unsnarls Pittsburgh streets, and improves the health and wealth of everyone – even if you don’t use it.

Most importantly for our neighborhoods, this sets in motion a change in thinking that we’ve been pushing for some time: improving transit’s viability and accessibility is not just the Port Authority’s responsibility.  We all own it, and we all must step up.  The streets, sidewalks, intersections, and traffic signals influence transit’s attractiveness at least as much as how Port Authority puts buses on those streets.  Mayor Peduto showed strong leadership by owning that responsibility and doing something about perhaps the most overlooked part of the trip – getting to and from, and waiting for, the bus.  Pittsburghers for Public Transit agree, saying, “(We) are thrilled about this new and improved bus stop. We commend Mayor Peduto, Envision Downtown, and everyone who helped to implement this ‘superstop.’ We look forward to more opportunities to improve the transit riding experience.”

If Pittsburgh is to continue to attract new talent, realize its carbon reduction and community revitalization goals, and keep itself affordable for its most vulnerable residents, more superstop-like projects are needed Downtown and in our neighborhoods, and this new way of thinking must become institutionalized.  Our neighborhoods were transit-oriented before it was chic, and their rebirths are as linked to making transit, walking, and biking safer and more appealing as any bricks-and-mortar redevelopment strategy. PCRG and its members are doing our part, advancing projects with similar transit accessibility improvement philosophies. We are also advocating for policy changes so that such future infrastructure projects simply become how we do business. We thank Mayor Peduto for his leadership and look forward to working with his administration, and all stakeholders, to make the Smithfield superstop the first of many transit street projects and a new way of thinking.



Save the Date for the 2016 Summit!

Last modified on 2016-02-09 21:43:30 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Greetings! 2016 is in full swing and so is planning for our 6th Annual Summit. Building from last year’s theme, this year we focus on The Power of PLACE – going beyond place making, to place holding, establishing, and growing – changing course to emphasize what matter most: People.

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We will gather once again at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh on May 17-18, 2016.

PCRG’s membership of 55 organizations represents 250% growth since we first launched the Summit six years ago. With nearly 600 participants we will convene over the course of two full days for the first time. Keynote speakers include ULI Senior Fellow Ed McMahon and Author of Happy City, Charles Montgomery.

PCRG leverages this event to raise the bar in community development: participants gain exposure to industry best practices and national trends, develop tactics to enhance the quality of life of those they serve, and this year, will dive deeply into the role and importance of place in people’s lives.

We hope you join us!

 



Don’t Forget – Submit Your Session Idea for the 2016 Summit!

Last modified on 2016-02-11 16:39:38 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Wednesday, February 24th is the deadline – just two weeks away – to submit your idea to be a session presenter OR to host a mobile workshop at PCRG’s 6th annual Community Development Summit.

 

Session proposal

This year’s theme, The Power of PLACE, will focus sessions and workshops around three core ideas:

  • POWER – What are the Catalysts that affect change, How do we Maximize Impact and Organize ourselves, organizations, and efforts?
  • PEOPLE – Who are places for? How can we respect people and provide for Equity and Inclusion? What Human Capital is needed to carry out the work, and how do we foster it?
  • PLACE – Moving beyond placemaking to sustaining and growing places. How do we define Place?

So.

SUBMIT YOUR SESSION. Do It. DO IT NOW!

(If you have any questions, or if you want to talk through an idea, email or call Majestic [mlane@pcrg.org] or Bethany [bdavidson@pcrg.org]!)

 



Responsible Banking and the Challenges of Community Development Legislation

Last modified on 2016-02-09 16:21:34 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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This year, the City of Pittsburgh contracted with PCRG to help streamline the implementation of the City’s Responsible Banking Ordinance (RBO), passed in 2012.

The Responsible Banking Ordinance brings the lessons of the federal Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to the local level. When Congress passed the CRA in the 1970s to combat redlining, its premise was this: financial institutions have an obligation, in return for deposit insurance and other backing provided by American taxpayers, to meet the credit needs of the communities where they operate.

The premise of local RBOs is similar: Local governments and agencies have large operating budgets that they deposit in financial institutions every year, and the financial institutions benefit from being able to hold that money and use it to make loans and investments. In return, banks have an obligation to reinvest in the communities whose money they are holding.

In practice, the proposals the City has received since the RBO was passed have been largely incomplete, inconsistent in format, and difficult to evaluate and compare with each other. Why?

Picture this: someone in the government relations section of a bank gets a request for proposals to provide depository services to the City of Pittsburgh. They read through the RFP and try to figure out what data they need to provide. They have multiple reporting requirements already, and the data request they now have to meet does not seem to line up exactly with the systems the bank has set up for collecting and reporting data to the federal government. It is not clear exactly how to pull data that would match what the RFP is asking for, and in some cases the data requested is not precisely defined. Some of the data is already publicly available, some of it is reported to the federal government but not released publicly, and some of it is proprietary to the bank. In smaller banks, the individuals responsible for reporting this data wear many hats and are not primarily trained data analysts.

The result, in short, is data submissions that don’t line up with what was intended by the RBO. The City wants to select banks that show a real commitment to investing in Pittsburgh neighborhoods and communities, but it is difficult to do that based on the proposals received.

PCRG is working with the City’s Department of Finance and the Controller’s office to redesign the process so that the reporting requirements for banks are as simple and clear as possible, and the data is submitted in a consistent form across proposals. This is just a step in the process towards achieving the real goal of the RBO: to encourage banks to increase their commitment to underserved communities in the City of Pittsburgh.

There is a general lesson here for community development legislation that requires technical expertise to implement: a clear, well-defined implementation plan is as important as the legislation itself. PCRG’s national partner organization, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, is working on a new model Responsible Banking Ordinance in response to the overturning of New York City’s RBO in federal court. PCRG hopes to contribute to this process, in part by helping to produce an implementation guide to accompany the model ordinance.



February Events and Announcements

Last modified on 2016-02-19 20:24:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

events

PCRG Events

FEBRUARY

GoBurgh

Wednesday, February 10th

12-2 PM

Vacant Property Working Group

Friday, February 12th

9 – 11 AM

MARCH

Vacant Property Working Group

Friday, March 11th

9 – 11 AM

PCRG Member Meeting

Thursday, March 24th

6 – 8 PM

Announcements

  • Save the date for PCRG’s Sixth Annual Community Development Summit, May 17th-18th, 2016. Entitled “The Power of Place”, the Summit will be an opportunity to connect with and learn from individuals across the community development world.
  • NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania is facilitating a Homebuyer Education Workshop sponsored by PNC Bank on February 20th, 2016 from 8:30am-4:30pm for anyone interested in learning more about the process of purchasing a home.  The workshop will take place at the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s Homewood-Brushton Community Center, located at 6907 Frankstown Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15208.  Pre-registration is required; please call NeighborWorks at 412.281.773 or visit their website for more information.
  • The EcoInnovation District Project Team would like to announce the kickoff for the Uptown/West Oakland EcoInnovation District planning process. An open house, free and open to the public, will be held on Thursday, February 25, 6pm-9pm at 300 Gist St. in Uptown. This fun event will signal the start of community engagement to create the City’s first sustainable and equitable district plan. Music and refreshments will be provided.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh (HFHGP) is seeking a new executive director. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh is the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, (HFHI). For more information about the job and how to apply, please see the job listing here.
  • The Pittsburgh Project is currently hiring for several part time staff positions. In addition, TPP is seeking college students to staff their summer youth and construction programs. For more information about these positions, please visit their job description page or contact Julie Minton, by email (jminton@pittsburghproject.org) or phone (412.321.1678).
  • NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania (NWWPA) is currently seeking individuals to fill two positions. NWWPA is a non-profit organization with the mission of financial empowerment that promotes homeownership and stable communities in Western Pennsylvania. For more information or to apply for the Housing Specialist-Education position  or the Program Coordinator position, please follow the links to the Nonprofit Talent pages for the jobs or contact Rachael Surmick at rsurmick@nwwpa.org.

For more information on this newsletter, please contact Sarah Slater, PCRG’s Communications Coordinator, at sslater@pcrg.org or (412) 391-6732 ext. 211.

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