Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Data Tells the Story in Sheraden

In order to make smart decisions, you must be well-informed about the issue or problem that you are attempting to solve. PCRG, as part of their ongoing efforts in Sheraden, has collected an extensive amount of information that will help to inform property revitalization strategies in the neighborhood.

All told, over 1,500 parcels were surveyed on site and characterized by type, condition, and vacancy status. These first-person observations were paired with other property-related information, like tax delinquency, ownership, foreclosures, and recent sales. This data helps clarify the many different factors that have been contributing to disinvestment in the neighborhood. Here are some quick facts about the focus area:

  • Out of 977 homes, over 180 were found to be vacant, almost 19%
  • There were 526 vacant lots, however many of them are wooded hillside property
  • Of the occupied structures, 394 were homeowners and 396 were renters
  • The average condition of Owner Occupied homes are only slightly better than the average Tenant Occupied home
  • Almost 200 properties were found to be delinquent on their City taxes 2 years or more, with 115 of them being structures
  • 178 different homes have faced foreclosure since 2006
  • Over 43% of all property in the focus area exhibited vacancy, tax delinquency, or recent foreclosure filings, or some combination of the 3

Looking at these numbers, you can start to identify root causes of decline. For instance, compare the number of foreclosures to the number of vacant properties. However, the hard part is deciding exactly WHERE to begin tackling the problems.

GIS technology allows us to take this data and analyze it in map form. One such method is the use of density maps, commonly referred to as "heat maps." The map to the left shows you the density of vacant structures, with areas of high density in red ("hot") and areas of low density in blue ("cold"). With this map you can see that there are about 4 areas with high concentrations of vacant structures ("hot spots"). Being able to visually depict this data can help decision makers decide how to strategically and effectively use scarce resources in order to make the most impact. It also allows those who might not be as experienced with community development, like average residents, to be able to easily analyze the data themselves and provide input.

As PCRG continues to analyze the data it has collected, more of these maps will be created showing a variety of information, allowing residents to understand how different factors are affecting different areas of their neighborhood as a whole.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sheraden Housing Co-op Secret Exposed

Post-Gazette writer Diana Nelson-Jones does a great job highlighting the Sheraden Park housing cooperative on Allendale Circle. The housing development is a very well-maintained and stable area adjacent to Sheraden Park.

Nelson-Jones writes about housing cooperatives, "Their survival depends on an all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude. Everyone's satisfaction is tied to his investment in the corporation. When you buy in, you buy a share and get your unit in return. There are no deeds. Each resident pays a carrying fee for services including snow removal, replacements, repairs and the like."

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sheraden Park Turns 100 Today

Today is the 100th anniversary of Sheraden Park! Check out this post by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy noting the milestone of this important neighborhood asset.

Final Push for Sheraden Resident Survey

      Marilyn Gerthoffer, President of the Sheraden Community Council, recently volunteered over 3 hours to help prepare 160 letters to randomly selected residents who have yet to complete the Sheraden Resident Survey. The mailing, sent out yesterday, includes copies of the survey and a self-addressed stamped envelope so that they can be returned by the February 7th deadline.
       The surveys are part of the ongoing outreach to residents concerning the revitalization efforts occurring in the neighborhood. To date, over 230 households have participated with a number of residents volunteering a significant amount of time to the project. The overall results, including various property related data collected from over 1,000 parcels, including condition and vacancy, will be presented in a series of upcoming community meetings. The dates of these meetings will be announced in the near future.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Volunteer Opportunities

        Volunteers are requested to assist with two upcoming canvassing dates to administer the Sheraden Resident Survey. To date, surveys have been collected from over 180 households (which is a lot!), but about 90 more need to be collected for the information to be statistically representative of the focus area.

        Canvassing will occur this Saturday the 7th and next Saturday the 14th from 11 to 2 PM. Please let Steve Novotny, PCRG's Sheraden Community Coordinator, know if you are able to help on either date by emailing him at, or by calling 412-391-6732. It's a great opportunity to meet neighbors and to have a direct role in the ongoing revitalization efforts in Sheraden.

        Volunteers will meet in the parking lot in front of Langley near the memorial at 11 AM sharp for a brief training. All needed materials will be provided. Dress warm and bring some friends! Many hands lighten the load.

        This Friday brings the annual holiday kick-off festivities in Sheraden. Debbie Whitfield of the Kiwanis Club of Sheraden explains via Facebook:

"The Community Council and Kiwanis Club will host the annual Sheraden Shines night this coming Friday, the 6th. Lighting the tree (which looks amazing) and caroling, followed by refreshments, crafts for the kids, free books and a visit from Santa at the American Legion. Festivities begin at 6:00. Donations of non-perishable food items for the food bank and new toys for Toys for Tots will be collected. The event is free, bring you kids or grandkids and make some new Sheraden memories!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Changes in Sheraden Station

        The area known to long time residents as Sheraden Station changed a bit over the weekend. Holiday decorations were put in place, including a large tree in front of Langley School. The Sheraden Community Council and Kiwanis Club work every year to create a festive atmosphere in the neighborhood.

        Directly across the street, demolition of the commercial structure at 2912 Sheraden Blvd began as part of the Family Dollar redevelopment of the former Sheraden grocery store. The building was home to several businesses over the years, but most notably a barbershop. It was acquired by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in March of 2011 for $35,500. The site is to be used for parking for the Family Dollar.

November 23, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sheraden in the News

Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto. Photo by Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette
        Sheraden has been getting some press lately. A Post-Gazette article published Tuesday highlighted recent remarks made by Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto at the annual meeting of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership. Peduto stressed the importance of the City administration working closely and supporting local non-profit and community organizations throughout Pittsburgh, especially in neighborhoods that have been left out of past revitalization efforts.

        Speaking about past collaborations involving public, private, and nonprofit partners, Peduto said "now we have to create a new model to see this transformation happen, so that places like Sheraden, and in Beltzhoover and in Manchester, those communities have an opportunity to be a part of this new economy as well."

        On Wednesday, Pop City highlighted ongoing efforts to revitalize Sheraden as part of PCRG's Reimagining Communities Initiative. Sheraden was selected as the initial community to benefit from the collaboration of PCRG, NeighborWorks Western PA, and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, and a partnership with the office of District 2 Councilperson Theresa Kail-Smith was established.

        This positive recognition of the neighborhood is a welcome sight to residents who feel that all too often,  Sheraden is unfairly depicted in an overtly negative way in the media.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


        It's been nearly a year and a half since the Reimagining Communities Initiative started its on the ground efforts in Sheraden. Much has been accomplished in this relatively short amount of time to lay the foundation for continued and future revitalization.

        Perhaps one of the more promising signs of positive change is the number of ordinary community residents who have stepped up to take a direct role in these efforts. Residents have assisted with collecting property condition information, administering Experience and Perception Surveys, have canvassed their streets to speak to their neighbors about getting involved, have attended many community meetings and events, and continue to exhibit unparallelled pride and commitment to Sheraden. Whether small or large, these individual actions will prove to be critical to the success of any community development efforts.

         Here are a few of the highlights from the past 18 months in Sheraden, as well as a link to a recent Press Release about the program:

  • Over 1,000 properties surveyed for condition and vacancy by PCRG
  • Nearly 100 meetings with residents and contact with over 750 households by PCRG
  • 13 homeowners receiving assistance with needed home repairs by Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh
  • 7 properties acquired for rehab and resale to homeowners by Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation
  • Over 80 families receiving financial counseling or foreclosure prevention assistance from NeighborWorks
  • Over 120 individuals attending public Financial Education Workshops by NeighborWorks
  • $400,000 in private investment secured by PCRG, NeighborWorks, and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh to support their work in Sheraden

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pancakes! People! Sheraden!

Packed house for the Kiwanis Club's annual Fall Pancake Breakfast
The Kiwanis Club of Sheraden held their annual fall Pancake Breakfast this past Saturday at the American Legion. The event, which ran from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM, experienced REALLY great turnout. Over 250 tickets were sold for a delicious breakfast served by a very friendly and helpful corp of young people from the community.

A silent auction was also held for various gift baskets. The morning provided a great opportunity for Sheraden residents, past and present, to spend time with each other and their families while raising funds for an important community organization. PCRG was grateful to be provided an opportunity to administer its Resident Experience Survey at the event and connect with many new and familiar faces.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pitt Students Make a Difference in Sheraden

Collecting Surveys
Saturday October 26th was the University of Pittsburgh's 6th annual Pitt Make A Difference Day. The event links over 3,000 student volunteers with a day of service projects in over 70 communities across the city.

Sheraden was lucky to receive 48 volunteers arriving in the morning by school bus. The students were divided into smaller groups and led by Sheraden residents to areas of the neighborhood in need of litter cleanup. A group of 10 opted to lend a hand engaging residents and administering a survey to learn about their experiences and perceptions of the neighborhood. They performed well, knocking on nearly 100 doors and getting 20 surveys completed in about 2 hours.
Don't trash my turf!

After a sunny morning of collecting surveys and a huge heap of litter, the students were treated to pizza and refreshments provided by Councilperson Theresa Kail-Smith's office. The day's activities were organized by the Sheraden Community Council and the Sheraden Kiwanis Club.

Relaxing in front of Langley