Homewood Nation

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Fearing for Homewood (2)

Posted on July 28, 2010 at 9:00 PM

As I was saying, it wasn't until many weeks after the question was asked, "What fears do you have concerning Homewood?" that I began to realize my answer. It had been with me for a long time, but it didn't register at first as an answer to the question.

Maybe the reason that it didn't is because it's not a fear regarding Homewood itself, it's a fear regarding other people. Specifically, Pittsburgh's black population. More specifically, Pittsburgh's black well-to-do population, the black middle class.

My fear is that, sometime between five and 10 years from now, some middle-class black folk are going to wind up saying, "I wish I could move to Homewood, but I can't afford it."

My fear is that if I hear some middle-class black person say that then, I will absolutely lose it and punch them in the face, while yelling, "FOOL! I TOLD YOU FIVE YEARS AGO - BUY A HOUSE IN HOMEWOOD!! DID YOU LISTEN? NO! SERVES YOU RIGHT, SUCKA!!"


My fear concerning Homewood is not about what any white people, or Asian people, or any other people might do. It's about what black people might fail to do. My fear concerning Homewood is simply that members of Pittsburgh black population who could take advantage of the opportunity here will miss it completely.

And that would be a doggone shame.

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Reply Albert W
03:49 PM on July 30, 2010 
I think that 3 things are keeping the middle class black folks from Homewood. 1. The perceived or real threat of crime. 2. Quality of education. 3. Poor housing stock. All 3 items have to be addressed before the black middle class moves back. The sad thing is that if the black middle class would take a chance and move back, all of the above problems would be solved. The middle class has the power to make things happen. Unfortuately, in my opinion, most black middle class people are not risk-takers.
Reply homewoodnation
11:56 AM on July 31, 2010 
1 - agreed, with the emphasis on "perceived." I say that because even when crime is reduced, it will not matter in this context until people *perceive* that Homewood is safe. Which raises the questions like, "How long after Homewood becomes safe will it take for people to perceive it as safe?" "In addition to actual crime reduction, what else will it take for people to perceive Homewood as safe?"

2 - agreed, As a former real estate agent, I can attest that for anybody with kids who is looking for a place to move to, "What are the schools like?" is the first or second question on their list. Right now, the answer for Homewood is negative. But as the Homewood Children's Village becomes more of a reality, I expect that to change completely, so that people will seek to move to Homewood for the schools. Which is exactly why I believe that in 5-10 years, some people will wish they had moved here sooner.

3 - disagree. I believe that right now the housing stock is one of the best things about Homewood, if not the best thing. The homes here are just as well-designed and well-built as any comparable homes in any part of the city. Now, "comparable" means in part, of similar age, and some folks would not want an older home, no matter where it's located. I get that. But for folks who appreciate the features of older home such as stained-glass windows, parquet hardwood floors and pocket doors; and/or who are willing to do updates, the homes of Homewood, right now, are an absolute steal.

Having said that, I agree that the middle class has the power to make things happen. I would also submit that most middle-people period, Black, white or other, are not risk-takers. Most people will not make such a move until they've seen someone else of similar station do it.

Hm. Here's a point - some of us have already done it. My neighbors include a contractor, an attorney, an architect, a social services worker. Maybe one of the biggest keys to getting more of us to do it is to publicize those who already have. When middle class white people move into a low-income Black neighborhood, it makes the newspaper and people write books about it.

Great, I think I'm giving myself another project...
Reply Albert W
03:10 AM on August 01, 2010 
2 out of 3 isn't too bad. I think that it would help if you could showcase some of the finished homes. A 'parade of homes' featuring some updated homes - detailing the acquisition costs and the costs to remodel them. You could include some bargain properties with estimates of acuisition costs and the cost to update them. Maybe a contractor's sketch of the potential in the properties could enhance the imagination of a propective buyer.

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