Wednesday, January 29, 2014

August Wilson Center - Symbol Of A Greater Problem For Black Artist

You've met Christiane D. Leach  here on a few years ago. I blogged about The Formiable Christiane D. Leach in 2008 when I was thinking about folks people should know.  Now, here is a story you won't believe.  It's a story about the way gentrification hurts communities of color.  It is a real story.  And this time, it just got up close and personal.  

Meet Christiane D. Leach a respected Pittsburgh artist who is internationally known for cool beats and smooth vocals.  As the Artist Relations Coordinator for The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, her purpose is to make Pittsburgh a more viable and sustainable place to live and work as an artist. Part of that viability is being able to purchase a home.  In November of 2013, she planned and implemented HE-HO,one of the most comprehensive conferences for artists to learn about affordable health care and home ownership.

Little did anyone know, during that conference, through no fault of her own, Leach became homeless. Her landlord sold the house she was renting, gave her 30 days to vacate and the closing date on her new home was delayed once again.  Her credit score was good. She had her closing costs in hand.  She had completed all the necessary paper work.  She had done everything in her power to move the deal forward to a successful conclusion.  

She was working with the most logical choice to help her achieve her own dream of home ownership, the FHA. The FHA has successfully helped millions of low to moderate home buyers purchase homes, moving America away from a nation of renters to a nation of home owners.  

The only thing she failed to take into full account is Pittsburgh’s attitude toward Black neighborhoods.  Since1980, Black population in the region has increased, while the Black population in the City Of Pittsburgh has decreased.  From 1990 the Black population in Pittsburgh has dropped from 101,139 to 79,710. 

Gentrification, inability to afford housing and obstacles to obtaining properties in distressed areas have all served to push Black out of the center city.  

After over a year of attempting to purchase a home, Leach was informed today that the only way she will be able to purchase her home in the distressed area of Homewood  is through cash or an owner financed loan.  In essence, unless you have cash, the only way to be a home owner in a distressed neighborhood is to have over $30,000 on hand.  Not many people today - let alone African Americans - have that kind of money sitting in a bank account. 

The dilemma of the August Wilson Center is symbolic of a larger attitude that Black Pittsburghers are incapable of being responsible of property. Here are some action statements for people who want to help. 1) Tweet her note with the hashtag#FHApghredlines or #pghredlines.
2) Or Tweet this blog with the hashtag#FHApghredlines or #pghredlines.
3) Share on Facebook and Google +

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