What’s the link between blight and racial inequity?

As the Pittsburgh Housing Needs Assessment found, areas with high concentrations of poor, very poor, and unsound buildings also tend to be located near neighborhoods with large non-white populations.

This speaks to both a lack of investment in minority communities and the power of a mixed-income community.

In East Liberty, we have witnessed first-hand the positive transformations that can occur when there is a concerted effort to fight blight and break up concentrations of poverty. Since the early 2000s, we have been planning, advocating, facilitating, and investing in the community’s desire for a thriving, mixed-income community.

The concentration of subsidized housing units across Pittsburgh neighborhoods. East Liberty is one of 12 neighborhoods containing over 50% of Pittsburgh’s subsidized housing stock.


In 2002, ELDI only controlled four residential properties in East Liberty, but we realized that nothing would change without acquiring the land to realize the community’s vision.

With support from local foundations and LISC, ELDI acquired nearly 200 vacant, blighted, and/or abandoned properties in the neighborhood. These properties represented over 10% of all properties in the neighborhood.

It was a bold and risky proposition — inspiring to some, scary to others. But with an experienced leadership team who saw the potential of the neighborhood, ELDI was able to garner support from the City and other key partners by pledging to buy
and maintain these properties.

While there is still work to be done, this approach (in combination with other efforts) was largely successful. Today, East Liberty is an attractive neighborhood with little blight and opportunities for all residents. 38% of rental housing is long-term affordable and we have one of the highest concentrations of subsidized affordable housing units in the city.

Learn more about this journey of transformation and the key takeaways that can be applied to other communities in our impact report.