The Bulletin: Community Development in Garfield


Community Development Updates by Rick Swartz, BGC

 

Council to consider bill allowing “granny flats”

City Council will take up legislation this month to allow a second dwelling unit to be added to single-family homes in a large portion of Garfield. Homeowners and homebuilders will have a two-year trial period to see if it is feasible to convert a basement, garage or third-floor attic into a second apartment, or tuck a “granny flat” into a newly-built house, as ways to make owning a home more affordable. The homeowner would need to remain the primary occupant of the house for as long as the unit is rented. The area of Garfield under consideration extends from Allegheny Cemetery on the west to N. Aiken Ave. on the east. Penn Ave. would not be included in the district. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for July 25, at 2 p.m., in City Council chambers.


Modular home approved for lot in 400 block of N. Graham

The Garfield neighborhood could see the construction of its first modular home this summer on a lot at the corner of N. Graham and Hillcrest Sts. Module, Inc. received approval from the city zoning board in May to erect the house, which will be built in sections in a factory and shipped to the site. A homebuyer for the unit has already been identified. Brian Gaudio, a principal in the firm known as Module, has said he would like to build additional, for-sale homes in other parts of the neighborhood.


Open Hand Ministries ramps up activity in Garfield

Open Hand Ministries, currently renovating a single-family home at 208 N. Fairmount for a working-class homebuyer, appears poised to take on renovations projects at several other locations in Garfield. Pairing up with East Liberty Development, Inc. (ELDI), Open Hand has its sights set on re-doing houses at 4752 Kincaid St., 310 N. Fairmount St., 5521 Broad St., and 233 N. Aiken Ave. ELDI has managed to receive a commitment award of federal tax credits that will reduce Open Hand’s construction costs by as much as 20%, which will help keep their homes affordable to families earning under $40,000 per year.


Possible help from City Council for Fort Pitt School and Field

Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess told two representatives from Garfield community groups last month that he will try to get the city to commit as much as $50,000 to seed efforts to plan for the future of Ft. Pitt School and an adjoining ballfield. The school has sat empty since 2011. A letter sent in March to school Superintendent Anthony Hamlet by Brothers and Sisters Emerging, Valley View Presbyterian Church, and the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation requested collaboration from the school district in creating a facility that could be used by both the district and the community. The letter has gone unanswered. Brothers and Sisters, which organizes the Garfield Gators football program every fall, is concerned about the deteriorated condition of the field’s grass surface, and would like to see artificial turf installed in its place.


City says “no” to paying for remediation of Broad St. hillside

Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff, Dan Gilman, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in June that a landslide which occurred in February behind a group of homes in the 5400 block of Broad St. was not triggered by what many residents feel was a poorly-executed house demolition the city oversaw last July. Four homeowners saw their houses condemned initially by the city after a portion of the hillside fell away from their homes. The occupants of two of those homes were able to return to them about a month later, but the other two owners have been forced to accept housing elsewhere. The point of origin for the landslide appears to have been the lot where the demolition work was done. The question remains as to who will take responsibility for reconstruction of retaining walls at both the top and the bottom of the hillside. The retaining wall that ran along the top of the hillside was knocked down by the demolition contractor the city hired last year to raze a house and rear garage that had been condemned at 5472 Broad St.


Garfield Land Trust moving forward with incorporation

After almost two years of planning and engagement of neighborhood residents, the Board of the Garfield Land Trust is readying articles of incorporation for filing this summer with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The land trust’s mission will be to find ways to create an inventory of housing in Garfield that is permanently affordable for lower-income individuals and families. A business plan is also being prepared that will have a variety of strategies the trust’s Board can use to achieve this goal. In a somewhat related move, City Council has approved Mayor Peduto’s nominees to the first advisory board for the Housing Opportunity Fund. The fund will have a stream of up to $10 million annually in city tax dollars that groups such as the Land Trust will be able to use to achieve their mission.

The Bulletin – Neighborhood Focus – August 2017

East End Fruit Cart brings fresh food to underserved neighbors

Story by Andrew McKeon, the Bulletin

ABOVE: At the East End Fruit Cart in Mellon Park, Jamel Haden (left) helps customers like Lando DePaulo – and his dog Lemmy – find the right fruit on a breezy July day. Haden and his two teenage co-workers use the mobile cart to bring fresh fruit to underserved neighborhoods throughout the city’s East End. Follow the East End Fruit Cart story below. Photo by John Colombo.


East End – Last year, when Tim Lydon returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh after spending many moons living and working on farms out West, he could tell the city had serious issues with food. Not the kind of food issues we often hear about (i.e. “Breaking News: Pittsburgh loves pierogies”), but the kind that many local residents seldom even notice (i.e. food scarcity in underserved neighborhoods).

“I’m really interested in issues of food scarcity and availability here in Pittsburgh. In the East End, there are plenty of places where people have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Drawing on his understanding of the politics of food, Lydon decided that he could really make an impact by simply bringing fresh food to the people, in their neighborhoods.

So, he created the East End Fruit Cart, a mobile fruit stand that he tows all over the city’s East End. Alongside three teenagers who run the fruit sales, Lydon posts up at a different public venue every day – from Monday through Saturday – to engage in a new kind of community outreach.

Created by a local artist, the cart and its cantilevered drapes are fairly impressive. But, the cart itself – and even the fruit – is only part of the story. What is most impressive is the intentional commerce that is at the heart of the project. On July 24,  the Bulletin visited the fruit cart under Mellon Park’s canopy shade, near the intersection of Fifth and Penn Aves.

“We’re in Homewood and we’re in Larimer, both places that have traditionally been considered ‘food deserts,’” Lydon explained. “We’re also in Oakland, which people might not think of as a food desert. Outside of the farmers markets, there’s nowhere to buy produce in Oakland.”

In response to a question from intrepid Bulletin photographer John Colombo (“Why don’t you take the cart to local farmers markets?”), Lydon replied that he did not want to cut into any other vendor’s profits. Since the fruit cart sources its goods from local grocery stores, he said, it would be unfair to vend at farmers markets, where most vendors sell their own farm-sourced products to make a living.

When looking for funding, he sought counsel from the BGC’s Rick Flanagan, Youth Development Director, and Rick Swartz, Executive Director. Lydon was eventually able to secure “Community Development Block Grant” monies, along with some fruit donations from Trader Joe’s and a cooler from the East End Food Co-Op.

“We just got $1,000 from Eat n’ Park yesterday,” he said. “Then, there is Bridgeway Capital, which is a nonprofit lending institution that has a department devoted to issues of food scarcity. We’re meeting with them next week.”

ABOVE: Tim Lydon (left) and Jamel Haden juggle fruit and responsibilities at the East End Fruit Cart in Mellon Park. Bringing fresh fruit to underserved neighborhoods, the fruit cart project seeks to address local issues of food scarcity. Photo by John Colombo.


With the grant money on its way, the project vision called for a six-week timeline. Since Lydon could not wait any longer, he took it upon himself to kick-start the fruit cart funding.

“Most of the money still hasn’t come through yet, but I knew this project had to start on June 26. So, I just bought everything on my own credit cards,” he said with a pause. “You could say I’m pretty committed to it.”

Local teenager Jamel Haden, a former Learn & Earn program participant and current BGC employee, works with Lydon to gather data on all the fruit sales. He even learned something about his own palette. “I’d never eaten Kiwi before, but I like it now,” Haden revealed. “I thought it was bitter until I first tried it.”

He asks customers what they think about things like a “fair price” for plums (the cart’s best-seller), then enters that information into a tablet, using Square technology to track spending patterns and what fruit sells best at each location.

“One thing we’ve found is that there has to be an educational component, because people need to know how to prepare fruits and vegetables,” Lydon said. “We need to team up with someone who can teach others how to make healthier choices.”

As part of the project’s social element, Haden and his teenage coworkers at the East End Fruit Cart sat down with representatives from 1Hood, a social justice organization that uses art to raise awareness and mentor young Pittsburghers.

“[1Hood founder] Jasiri X made a real impression on the kids,” Lydon said. “One of them has already applied for an internship [at 1Hood]. You know, it’s important for the kids to meet community leaders who look like them.”

The project’s ultimate goal is to form inroads with local residents and build a network of community supported agriculture (CSA). Lydon believes this idea could create more of a laser-sharp focus on bringing food to neighborhoods that do not have access to fresh foods

“We could identify a neighborhood – for example, Homewood or Lincoln-Lemington or Larimer – and then find kids from that neighborhood to be neighborhood ambassadors,” he explained. “They’d literally be going door-to-door to ask their neighbors if they want to order fresh fruits and vegetables. So, it would be like a CSA program run by kids in each neighborhood.”

Learn more about the cart and its mobile mission to bring fresh food to East Enders at www.eastendfruitcart.com.

Click here for more stories from the August issue of the Bulletin (Vol. 42, No. 8)

 

Now Hiring: Afterschool Program Support Staff

Are you looking for a job that involves shaping young minds? Look no further because the BGC and Neighborhood Learning Alliance have just the job for you. A local afterschool program is now hiring another support staffer to attend to the academic and social needs of students from Pittsburgh Arsenal K-5 and Pittsburgh Woolslair K-5. Work afternoon hours and earn good pay while helping elementary school students boost their reading and mathematical skills. Some leadership experience is required; all candidates must pass various background checks. Click the link below to learn more about this excellent career opportunity.

Job Posting – AfterschoolSupportStaff

The Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania and Goodwill Team Up for the “Give A Little Love” Holiday Clothing Drive & Community Service Project December 1 – December 31, 2015

Beginning on Dec. 1, two well-known and well-respected nonprofit organizations, the Girls Scouts Western Pennsylvania and Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, are teaming up this year for the holidays. Together, they will conduct the “Give A Little Love” Holiday Clothing Drive and Community Service Project during the month of December. Girl Scouts will be collecting gently used items for donation to Goodwill for the winter months when donations are needed most. Items donated will be sold in Goodwill stores to support the agency’s mission to provide job training and education to help people with barriers to gain employment.

“We are so very pleased to work with the Girl Scouts on this donation drive project,” said Danielle Hardy, Community Donations Specialist at Goodwill SWPA. “They have been a wonderful partner of Goodwill for decades because of their commitment to the community.  Their support this year is greatly needed.”

During the “Give A Little Love” Holiday Clothing Drive and Community Service Project, Girl Scouts will distribute donation bags to family, friends and other partners throughout the community. Later, they will collect the donation bags and deliver them to their local Goodwill store and donation center by December 31st. Goodwill SWPA and the Girls Scouts Western Pennsylvania are calling on the public to support the project by cleaning out their closets to help to Girl Scouts fill the donation bags.

Participating Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to earn a patch provided by Goodwill recognizing their fulfillment of community service. Additionally, the top three Girl Scouts who collect the most donations will win a paid trip to camp; courtesy of Goodwill SWPA.

“Thanks to local organizations like Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Girl Scouts have opportunities to keep their promise to help others and make the world a better place,” said Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania.  “Even our youngest Girl Scouts in kindergarten can participate in this project, putting them on a path of service and engagement that will last their entire lives.”

For more information on the Give A Little Love Holiday Clothing Drive and Community Service Project, or to receive general information about how to partner with Goodwill on a community donation drive, visit www.goodwillswpa.org/host-donation-drive or contact Danielle Hardy at 412-632-1875 or danielle.hardy@goodwillswpa.org.

Summer Jobs in the Hospitality Industry

Looking for a job this summer? One of our neighbors on Evaline Street just landed a job through LGC Hospitality Staffing, a firm that orchestrates placement at work-sites like PNC Park and Heinz Field, among others. Specializing in the hospitality industry, LGC offers a number of full and part-time positions in the Pittsburgh area. Staffing manager Sara Vuich will work with each candidate to find them the right job, regardless of their background or work experience. Interested candidates seeking more information can email pittsburgh@lgcassociates.com or call 412-343-5087.

Arsenal 360 Night

Get ready for a special family fun night at Arsenal Elementary and Arsenal Middle School on Wednesday, May 6th at 5:30 PM. In partnership with A+ Schools and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the PEP Rally Program will be  jointly hosting Arsenal 360 Night, a special evening designed to celebrate diversity and showcase the many stories and cultures of Arsenal families. This event has been made possible through the Sprout Fund’s Global Switchboard Community of Practice grant.  Everyone is encouraged to extend this invitation to other families and anyone else who might be interested in this multicultural event. Below are some flyers printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, and Arabic!

 

Arsenal360Night_English

Arsenal360Night_Spanish

Arsenal360Night_Chinese

Arsenal360Night_French

Arsenal360Night_Arabic

Join us for an end-of-summer celebration!

summeryouth

Tamere Lester and Wes Davis enjoy a field trip to a Pirates game as part of the Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program.

The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation (BGC) and Neighborhood Learning Alliance (NLA) will host a “Celebration of Success” event at 3 p.m. on Aug. 15 at the BGC’s youth development office, 5321 Penn Ave.

This event will celebrate the 300+ young adults who participated this summer in NLA’s Reading Warriors program, which employs high school students to serve as reading mentors for children, and the BGC’s Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program, which gave many young adults their first work experiences in conjunction with the City of Pittsburgh. Continue reading