CP photo by Rebecca Addison
For several months, State Representatives Jake Wheatley and Ed Gainey, Pittsburgh City Councilors Daniel Lavelle and Ricky Burgess, and Allegheny County Councilor DeWitt Walton have hosted a series of meetings with various Pittsburgh communities. Dubbed the Pittsburgh Elected Officials Coalition, the five men have discussed issues like LGBT rights, healthcare and employment.
Today, they released a report detailing a community-informed policy agenda in the areas of public safety, affordable housing, family outcomes, businesses and organizations, education and employment.
"We need our community to continue to come together and the more our community comes together, the more we'll be able to transform this region," said Gainey. "If we want true diversity and inclusion, it begins with all of us."
Affordable housing has emerged as what many see as the most pressing issue facing Pittsburgh. Among the coalition's recommendations on this issue is establishing a sustainable funding stream for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
. The fund was approved by city council in December, but questions remain about how it will be funded.
"With all of these policy recommendations that we are making, resources, especially the fiscal resources, will be critical to direct behind these initiatives in order to make our communities vibrant and safe," said Lavelle.
Other recommendations include providing LGBT sensitivity training to public safety personnel, developing a smartphone application for community public safety reporting and creating a Community Workforce Alliance to better connect people to employment opportunities.
While these recommendations are more concrete action steps, other recommendations in the report seem vague. For instance, one recommendation is to "increase the number of students enrolled in community college training programs and/or military service." Another recommends "creating additional minority business opportunities."
When asked what pieces of legislation would come out of the report and when the public could expect the legislation, Wheatley, who serves as the coalition's leader, did not make any commitments.
"This is not just about the legislative process, although we are legislators," said Wheatley. "This is a community transformation process so it's also very important for us to constantly keep engaged and communicate what we do and how we do it."
Tonight, the coalition has invited the public to learn more about the report at Rodman Missionary Baptists Church. The event will run from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.