Vacant Property Working Group Celebrates 20th Anniversary

7 Jul


You read that right.

20 years ago this month, PCRG and its members began this journey toward a land bank and other tools to recycle Pittsburgh’s blighted, vacant, and abandoned properties. It’s actually why our Vacant Property Working Group – VPWG – was created.

Since then, VPWG has successfully advocated for the critical policies, tools, and resources that empower our communities to transform the challenges of vacancy into opportunities for stability, growth, and inclusivity. We played a lead role in the creation of the Pittsburgh Vacant Property Land Reserve. We teamed with the City and URA to streamline existing land recycling processes. We partnered and informed stakeholders statewide in our push for landmark legislation to allow Pennsylvania communities to create effective land banks – legislation that embodies much of PCRG’s best-practice research. Here at home, we fought hard to make sure that a land bank would lift up distressed communities and protect at-risk homeowners. It was not without struggle, but we’re grateful that minority, labor, environmental, community development and other leaders joined us to say – loud and clear – that community is the priority in the Pittsburgh Community Land Bank. Council heard us, and we thank you for your push.

We’re closer than ever, but the journey is not yet over. As we reflect on all that’s been achieved, much important work lies ahead.

Since legislated into existence in April, 2014, the Pittsburgh Community Land Bank has struggled to find its footing. Elected and City leadership have committed to an operational land bank by the end 2016, and the City, URA, and Land Bank Board of Directors are developing the required organizational and legal infrastructure needed for the Land Bank to function effectively. Vital to that are Policies and Procedures that will govern day-to-day operations including the acquisition and disposition of property and how the land bank responds community priorities.

PCRG continues to look out for our members’ interests. Based on multiple conversations with the URA and Land Bank Board of Directors – and at their request – we proposed a scope of activities that we felt appropriately ensured that a comprehensive, accessible, and transparent community input and dialogue informs the creation of Policies and Procedures. We are actively pursuing other resources to ensure that your voice is heard and heeded in this important, pivotal process. But, like the past 2 decades, we can’t do it without your help.

PCRG remains committed to fulfilling the journey that we – and you – set out upon 20 years ago. We are committed to ensuring that the priorities of our members and communities are preserved, and that the Land Bank Policies and Procedures are created through a robust and inclusive manner that results in a transformative tool that truly serves – and is driven by – Pittsburgh’s communities. This important process deserves no less.

Connect on

Chris Sandvig

Regional Policy Director at Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG)
Chris works on regional and state issues impacting PCRG’s member communities and manages our GoBurgh program. He’s a long-time transit advocate, Morningside resident, and commutes to work via bike or bus almost every day. Prior to PCRG, Chris spent 9 years in corporate business development for industrial and commercial engineered HVAC systems. He holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Penn State and a MS in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, where he concentrated on urban and regional economic development and public finance.
Connect on