…continued from Housing Night. My regrets for not being able to include every speaker.

Gabriel McMorland, Bloomfield resident (02:14:15)
“The national realtors association and other trade groups have come into many cities across the country, and poured a lot of money into advertising and political campaigns to oppose both affordable housing and civil rights protections for tenants.”

Yvonne Rainey, California-Kirkbride resident (02:15:37)
“I’m asking the women on this board.  We need five votes to make this happen.  Where do you stand?  It’s about homes. Where do you stand?”

Stephanie Palumbo, Currently staying in Greenfield (2:11:27)
I’m a 39 year old that cannot afford rent.  The shame I feel at this point reminds me of when I was homeless at 18 and sleeping in my car.  If a single, white woman that is college educated, does not have children, is a law-abiding citizen cannot afford rent, then who can?  I’m saving up now to try to do that.  It’s shameful for me to stand here and say that I can’t afford to live in my city that I’ve grown up in.”

Full video of public hearing. (Robotic voice ends after 30 seconds)

Alethea Sims, East Liberty resident (00:34:30)
“I’m a grown woman.  I’m 60 years old.  I don’t need to be told anything – I would love to be asked. I would love to make sure the communities that I call home, that i stayed through the bad times, I get to live there in the good times….  That the Alethia Sims that comes behind me in 5, 10, 15 years doesn’t have to go through what I’ve gone through for the past fifteen years.  Somewhere, somehow, someone has to get this right.”

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Councilman Daniel Lavelle (02:22:05)
“The hour is late and I think you all have already made the case as to why this is necessary.  I want to thank you all for taking time out of your day, because it wasn’t easy to spend a couple of hours and come to City Council, and make the case better I ever could have for why we need to do this. Because you’re living it, breathing it, experiencing it, and asking us to make your lives better, and that is certainly our intent to be able to do so.”

Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith (02:24:25)
In my area we have an abundance of affordable housing that we can’t fill.  And the reason we can’t fill it is because some of it’s in deplorable condition, and this fund will help us do that….  There are fifty-four such funds around the state of Pennsylvania.  I’m trying to understand if they really benefit the people, not just organizations, and not just developers.”

Councilwoman Deborah Gross (02:28:50)
In ten years, housing prices in Lawrenceville have gone up tenfold – one thousand percent.  We can’t afford that anymore.  I have spoken to people who are renters who need to live near their jobs, and now live outside the city and cannot get to work…. We need to stem this displacement.  You have one vote for inclusionary zoning on Council.  I know that I support it for my district.  I hear the concerns of my fellow colleagues.  I don’t their neighborhoods as well as they do.  There are places where we know it would be fine.  Those developers will keep building those units and they can build them 20% affordable units.”

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak (02:34:05)
“I’m not sure that I heard residents from my district here, and that’s an issue…  I need to make sure my residents are represented in this process.  This isn’t to be political.  This is to be inclusive.  When i look at home repair, accessibility modifications, rental rehab and rental assistance, I need to know that my residents have been included in this process from the beginning… At least half of my district is low- income.  And i probably represent the most burgeoning refugee and immigrant population in the entire city.”

Council President Bruce Kraus (02:40:40)
“Fall is traditionally the budget season. That is going to be this Council’s number one priority. But i promise you that the number two priority is the passage of this bill before year’s end.”

Emily Cleath, Just Harvest (00:48:23)
“The housing crisis is so immense that it’s affecting most, if not all, low-income and vulnerable households… They are having to choose between keeping a roof over their heads and putting food on the table. Or they’re being pushed to neighborhoods with fewer jobs, less public transit, less community support ,and less access to healthy food. And as long as that is true, Just Harvest and our allies will never be able to solve the hunger problem in this region.”

Robert Bell, Sheraden resident (00:55:00)
“We have businesses here that pay little or no taxes, and they should pay their fair share.  They use the best and brightest of our community, and the best of our resources, and the best of our real estate. And they should be made to be good corporate neighbors and pay their fair share.”

Paul O’Hanlon, Squirrel Hill resident, public interest lawyer (01:01:40)
“The reality of low-income individuals is that they’re either elderly, disabled, or single moms with children. The overwhelming plurality of people who are low-income fit those categories. So what we’re really talking about is being able to build housing in our city, and allow for our friends, our neighbors, our relatives, our family members, to stay in the city with the rest of us.”

Barb Grover, Sierra Club (01:25:23)
“Affordable housing is not only a right and a social justice issue, but an environmental issue.  Living where you work, shop and play means walking, biking, or bus service as your means of transportation. That reduces greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to improving the air quality in our area.”

Celeste Scott, Pittsburgh United (00:03:33)
“The voices of residents, organizations, and Pittsburghers as a whole are loud and clear that the Housing Opportunity Fund is a way to help keep Pittsburgh home. Everyone deserves a place to call home. For the people who have or will maintain a home as a result of the fund, it will fundamentally and permanently change their lives, and allow them to afford to live and thrive in Pittsburgh.  The time is now to act.”

Bram Reichbaum, Resident (00:07:50)
“For any developer that takes advantage of this Opportunity Fund, there should be no evictions except for ‘just cause’, and that should be part of the deed or lease… The section about the Mayor’s ability to add people to the governing board if they donate enough money to the fund  – that concerns me.  I’m not sure I’d want to see a situation where CMU chips in $3 million and Uber donates $2 million, and then they can start directly driving housing policy in the City of Pittsburgh.”

Lisa Freeman, Manchester resident (00:11:20)
“I disagree that the idea of raising the transfer tax, or using that transfer fee.  As a homeowner, I’m burdened already every year with paying city taxes, county taxes, wage tax, school tax, library tax, homeowners insurance, and now you dare me to pay an additional tax when I sell my home, so people can enjoy affordable housing units? Families who share in the same enjoyment of living without being bled dry like I am? It’s ridiculous. Only the elderly and the handicapped should be considered in this affordable housing.”

Richard Morris, Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations (00:15:20)
“Housing discrimination is still illegal even if it’s unintentional. The lesson for municipalities is that all housing development efforts the city has a role in should break down residential barriers, and racial barriers.  The Housing Opportunity Trust Fund can be a tool to do this.”

Helen Gerhardt, Homes for All, (00:30:45)
“After recently having been displaced myself because my rent was over 50% of my income, I now live in one room.  I’m lucky enough to be able to stay in the city that I’ve come to love.  And the people I’ve come to care for so much – too many of them have been exiled from their homes.  Too many have been separated from the networks of mutual support and caring, from jobs, from transit, from grocery stores… I need to see my community step up to the needs of people who give so much to Pittsburgh.”

Carmen Brown, Action United (02:10:05)
“Mosites took public money and they should have some obligation to make sure that some of these people who have to move in March from Penn Plaza, that they should be offering them some kind of housing.  They should negotiate housing. If they don’t come to the table, we’re going to shut it down.”

Betty Pickett , Lower Hill District resident (00:38:05)
“Where I live, I’ve lived there for 38 years, 98% of the people are the same.  That is what you call a neighborhood.  It’s not a revolving door… We talk over the fence.  It’s important that we look out for each other and that’s what we do.  The Housing Opportunity Fund becomes critical in making that happen throughout the neighborhood. What we have been through in terms of trying to get affordable housing in the Lower Hill on the parking lot sites that are there now, has been a real a real hand wringer, and it’s been ridiculous what the penguins have done.  They brought the cup back, but they didn’t bring affordable housing in.  So we’ve got to deal with that.”

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