South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Volunteers surveying Beltzhoover properties to develop a community blight reduction plan


Last updated 4/6/2015 at 5:54pm

Volunteers are being sought to help conduct a condition survey of all residential property in Beltzhoover.

The project involves conducting a comprehensive inventory of more than 1,500 parcels in Beltzhoover, after which a framework of a blight reduction plan will be devised.

LaShawna Russ, Beltzhoover’s community coordinator for the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG), a non-profit community development group, is hoping to have the surveying aspect completed by the end of April.

PCRG is working in partnership with the Hilltop Alliance on the project.

“We also plan on getting feedback from residents on what is needed in the neighborhood,” said Aaron Sukenik, executive director of the Hilltop Alliance.

The work is being done as part of PCRG’s Reimagining Communities Initiative, a comprehensive revitalization effort that works with residents and community organizations to positively impact families and neighborhoods.

The process does not involve knocking on doors. Rather, it requires simply observing the residential property, whether vacant or occupied, to collect the data.

The technology system utilized is called LocalData, which is designed to assist civic institutions in collecting and analyzing information about their urban infrastructure.

Using a smartphone or tablet, the volunteer clicks responses to questions about the property using a dropdown menu. For example, for the question, “How attractive is a home?” the responses from which to choose include: very attractive; adequately attractive; or not attractive.

To a question about the condition of the gutters, the responses include: no repair; minor repair; or major repair.

Everything is visual -- there are no measurements. Pen and paper is also an alternative for those who prefer it over technology.

Ms. Russ held one-hour training sessions for volunteers on March 28 and April 3-4.

Anyone else interested in volunteering should call Ms. Russ at 412-320-5704, or emailing .

The Reimagining Communities Initiative is made possible through organizational partners, including the Hilltop Alliance and NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania, with financial support from S&T Bank and Northwest Savings Bank.


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