Photo by Ryan Deto
From left to right: Bill Bartlett, Janice Brown and Angel Gober of ACTION United
When more than 200 tenants at Penn Plaza received 90-day eviction notices last July, it was community advocacy group ACTION United who helped the residents organize a tenant council. Since then, the nonprofit, which has its Pittsburgh offices just blocks away from Penn Plaza in East Liberty, has held rallies and press conferences reminding city officials of the ongoing affordable housing shortages
in the East End, and holding them to their promise to relocate every last tenant
And at a press conference this week, the organization is asking the city to institute policies to ensure crises like Penn Plaza don't happen again. The group is calling for the city to require landlords provide at least 18 months notice in situations similar to Penn Plaza.
"Penn Plaza never again," said Angel Gober, an ACTION United community organizer, at the press conference. "You cannot put people out in the streets in 90 days, especially if they are disabled and seniors."
The group's 18-month proposal would only apply to market-rate rental housing that has more than 20 units and any structure that receives public subsidies or is about to have its public subsidies expire. The proposal also requires advance notice if a sale or transfer results in tenants' leases being terminated and if neighborhood displacement will occur. ACTION United emailed City Paper
their proposal, and it states: "This policy is designed to give residential tenants in Pittsburgh a reasonable amount of certainty and stability in their housing."
Kevin Quisenberry, lawyer for the Penn Plaza tenant council, also suggested the need for significant advance notice
in situations similar to Penn Plaza, in a recent CP
The press conference was held at Kingsley Association in East Liberty right before the city held its last affordable housing community meeting, where residents were allowed to ask questions and give input to the city's affordable housing task force. The city has said the task force should have affordable housing recommendations for city council some time this summer.