Pittsburgh is a city of rivers and hills, bridges and inclines, distinct neighborhoods, and a revitalizing downtown. It’s the heart of a two-million plus metropolitan area, pumping ideas, people, goods, and services throughout the region. And it was just rankedAmerica’s Most Liveable City for a second time.
Like people in any big city, Pittsburghers come in all races, colors, and creeds. Our diversity shows itself in both white and black, with a growing body of Asian and Latin Americans. The city’s Catholic and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians have been joined by Jewish, Muslim, and Eastern Religions. We’re proud of our blue-collar roots, and just as likely to be innovators and entrepreneurs today. Examples include an array of start-up technology firms that rival those in Silicon Valley, the young urban Mennonites who built a new community and art center, or the committed, creative risk-takers at theManchester Craftsmen’s Guild.
We’re attractive to students! With top-notch universities and a slew of smaller schools, Pittsburgh has a vibrant college culture. With great local bands, quirky coffee shops, a vibrant independent film scene, The Andy Warhol Museum, and ethnic foods from around the globe, Pittsburgh draws on a rich heritage of arts, cuisine, and music.
Of course, it’s a big league city, with the Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers rounding out the sports calendar. Plus, Pittsburgh’s a “green” city, having shed the pollution of the industrial age, with a network of forested parks, a growing bike community, big-river paddling, and the third highest concentration of environmentally green buildings in the country, including The Pittsburgh Project’s own Guesthouse.
Yet Pittsburgh faces challenges. It is still rebounding from the disintegration of the steel industry 25 years ago. The housing stock in Pittsburgh is old and poor. Almost one-fifth of homes are owned by households with incomes below $20,000, and over one-quarter are owned by homeowners 65 and older. Many seniors cannot afford to maintain their aging homes, and often live in the shadow of fear and isolation. There are widening gaps between rich and poor, between black and white, between those connected with resources and those without access to any. The Pittsburgh Project is located in an area of significant need. Twenty percent of our neighborhood’s housing units are empty. Unemployment is nearly five times the city average. Nearly 79 percent of our neighborhood’s households live below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty guidelines.
Clearly, Pittsburgh offers significant opportunities for young people to learn and serve. Our Service Camps deploy over 2500 teenagers and college students in crews to perform free home repairs for the city’s most isolated, in-need elderly residents. We offer meeting and overnight retreat space for groups looking to host immersion weekends, conferences, and special events.