Pittsburgh mayor names members for Land Bank Board, Housing Task Force

In order to focus on Pittsburgh’s interrelated housing and vacant and abandoned property issues, Mayor William Peduto on Monday named several officials to the city’s Land Bank Board and its Affordable Housing Task Force.

Since February, the task force has worked to produce affordable new housing units while preserving existing ones and to develop new programs for mixed-income urban development, aiming for a sustainable mix of housing options for households of varying income levels. The task force may also appoint citizens to an advisory committee to maintain alignment between neighborhood initiatives and overall affordability.

“The Land Bank and the Affordable Housing Task Force are both building blocks essential to the comprehensive planning for our city, and will work on parallel tracks to help strengthen all Pittsburgh communities,” Peduto said.

The board will be co-chaired by planning director Ray Gastil and by City Councilman Daniel Lavelle. Other members include City Councilman Dan Gilman; chief of staff Kevin Acklin; chief urban affairs officer Valerie McDonald Roberts; Planning Commission member Fred Brown; Tom Cummings with the Urban Redevelopment Authority; David Weber from the Pittsburgh Housing Authority; Bob Hurley with Allegheny County Economic Development; state Rep. Ed Gainey (D-24th); state Sen. Jay Costa (D-43rd); Carla Falkenstein of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle; Linda Metropulos, of ACTION-Housing; Bill Gatti of TREK Development; Sam Williamson from SEIU 32BJ; Bill Brooks of  Laborers Local 373; West End Alliance's Richard Butler; Mark Masterson of North Side Development Fund; Dollar Bank's Tamara Dudukovich; Barney Oursler of Pittsburgh United; Bethany Davidson from Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group; and Liz Hersh from the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Working on a parallel path to the task force, the land bank will work to clear, acquire, and redevelop vacant and abandoned properties, aiming for a balance of housing units and green space. Six board members — City Councilman Ricky Burgess, City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, state Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-42nd), finance director Paul Leger and Karen Abrams of the Urban Redevelopment Authority — were named in November while the remaining three — Bill Gatti of TREK Development; Mark Masterson of the North Side Development Fund; and Steve Mazza of the Regional Council of Carpenters — were appointed May 4.