In a new report by the analytics consultancy, Numeritics, the population loss of African Americans in East Liberty between 2007 and 2015 is examined. The report found that the population loss occurred in two waves:
“Our analysis reveals that the loss happened mainly in two waves. The first wave occurred before the neighborhood was revitalized, and was related primarily to foreclosure and abandonment that accelerated around 2007. The second wave began as the neighborhood transitioned; the result of increased market forces and the conversion of multiple (typically three) apartment structures back to single family properties.”
The forces that wrought these changes are then dissected using census data and other local housing data (detailed in the report):
“This disinvestment and resultant blight over time explains East Liberty’s housing stock and population dynamics at the turn of the present century. Our analysis reveals that approximately 70% of the African American population loss can be accounted for due to housing units simply being abandoned and/or becoming uninhabitable in the timeframe 2005-2011. Within this time window we find that an estimated 550 bedrooms which were available prior to 2012 to renters who were paying low market rates or subsidized rates, were no longer available at those rates by 2012. Of this figure, nearly 90% were due to properties that were either foreclosed upon, abandoned, became uninhabitable and/or lost structural integrity.”
The report goes on to comment on the relevance of what happened in East Liberty for other neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and beyond, examining ELDI’s role in preserving affordability as well as security in the neighborhood in the process.
“ELDI saw the need to proactively manage foreclosed, vacant and/or abandoned properties and a concerted attempt was made to keep vulnerable properties out of the hands of slumlords. In addition to ensuring that properties do not fall into the hands of slumlords, ELDI used LIHTCs (Low Income Housing Tax Credits) and a host of soft monies to renovate and maintain affordability for a significant number of properties. However, given that these resources are limited, the CDO recognized that a sustainable change necessitates that market forces, a requirement for attracting private sector investments to the neighborhood, have to be embraced but that must be done in such a way that establishes a safety net for lower income families.”
Read the full report here.