Lawrenceville United

While the majority of Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods continue to feel the sting of shrinking populations and disinvestment, Lawrenceville — with its collection of startups and boutique restaurants — is dealing with the growing pains that come with attracting waves of affluent young professionals. Lawrenceville United works to ensure that the gains from this turnaround are equally shared by the entire neighborhood.

According to the nonprofit’s research, economic displacement has begun, and it’s only getting worse. From 2011 to 2016, the neighborhood lost half of its houses supported by Section 8 housing assistance, which is an estimated 120 units. And between 2013 and 2016, the black population of Lawrenceville dropped by 31 percent.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Lawrenceville United Executive Director Dave Breingan says the organization advocates for a wide variety of methods to fight displacement, including changes to local zoning laws and even community land trusts that own and operate houses on behalf of the neighborhood.

“The need has never been greater,” says Breingan. To protect and increase the availability of affordable housing, “we need more tools in the toolbox.”

Over the next several weeks, Lawrenceville United will hold a series of public forums to educate the public on the area’s pressing housing needs. The next meeting will take place on Oct. 17, and will focus on “Inclusionary Zoning: a tool to preserve affordability.”