City’s Tear-Down Budget: Condemnation or Praise?

City’s Tear-Down Budget: Condemnation or Praise?

Pittsburgh City Council will debate spending about $500k from the capital budget this week to demolish condemned properties. It is not clear how many structures will fall since the budget information does not lay that detail out. In the past two fiscal years the city has budgeted just over $3 million per year (out of a $52-$53 million capital budget) for demolition.

The most recent data from 2008 shows there were 602 condemnations in the City of which 230 (38%) were razed by either the City or a private party (either the owner or a contractor). That year data on Pittsburgh and other U.S. cities showed Pittsburgh had about 18% of its housing stock classified as vacant (29k of 159k). That percentage was slightly above the average for the group; higher than Allentown and Toledo but lower than Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Though the City "has made continuous efforts to address blight, ranging from increased demolition of vacant buildings…" the Act 47 team recommended that Pittsburgh seek the best practices for managing their vacant buildings. Has the City moved in this direction? Perhaps the only way to tell is determining how effectively the demolition money is being utilized.