Re: "Federal Case" by Violet Law [Nov.15]: The article strongly puts forward the view that the Federal Hill Project -- which will be under construction soon to build up to 50 mixed-income houses in an extremely blighted portion of the Central North Side -- is an effort by one group of people to push out another group. When Law worked for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, she wrote an article about the Federal Hill Housing program that was (not surprisingly) suspiciously similar to this one, with the very same point of view.
The members of the Central Northside Neighborhood Council (CNNC), who are all volunteer residents of the neighborhood, have worked since the 1970s to raise the quality of life of all the residents, to remove the blight that debilitates our community and, probably most effectively, to build affordable housing. And the Federal Hill Project is the result of literally hundreds of open, well-attended meetings, including public town meetings focused on the residents in the project area. Every major new decision along the way was made through a public, and publicly advertised, process.
If you read through a list of some of the accomplishments of the CNNC, you'll note that CNNC has developed, or partnered in the development of, 142 units of low-income rental housing, and 80 units of low-to-moderate-income owner-occupied housing -- in addition to many other accomplishments, such as starting low-income loan programs, and initiatives aimed at public safety, youth development, and much more.
The problem of insufficient funding for low-income housing is a national one at present, with funds continuing to be cut from the federal budget. It is these funds that will enable us to offer a qualified buyer a newly built three-bedroom house with 1.5 baths for $70,000 -- something you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere in the city, and a point not noted by Law in her article.
If we do not have a national conversation about funding for low-income housing, the problem of finding homes for people who can't afford a $70,000 house will continue to plague all of our communities.
I commend the Pittsburgh City Paper for being one of the few media forums to do investigative and consumer-oriented articles of high reportorial quality. Unfortunately, Law's article falls short.
-- Joan Kimmel, Chair
Federal Hill Project