Gainey often framed his candidacy around the idea of justice, pointing to disparities in the economy, health care and policing between white and Black residents.

“We can’t push people out and say we’re growing the economy,” Gainey said in a post-election interview. “There’s only a select few that are playing in this economy.”

‘Not a silver bullet’

No organizer or official in Pittsburgh claims that inclusionary zoning will solve the city’s housing problems on its own. Most that PublicSource spoke to said that it’s an important tool among several that the city must invest in.

Gainey’s focus was on inclusionary zoning during his May 21 interview with PublicSource, but his campaign website includes specific calls for added investments in community land trusts and the Pittsburgh Land Bank.

Swartz said he hopes the city will use some of the $335 million it is receiving from the American Rescue Plan to invest in housing-related infrastructure. Milliones called for greater transparency in how the city and the URA make transactions involving property owned by the two entities.

Walker, deputy director of the URA, said subsidies alone won’t solve the city’s housing crisis.

“It means that we’re going to need to make structural changes in our city, particularly around inclusionary zoning, around parking requirements, around density, around being able to create accessible dwelling units,” she said. “We have to think in 21st-century terms.”

Charlie Wolfson is PublicSource’s local government reporter and a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at and on Twitter @chwolfson.