A History of Vacancy
Following the decline of the steel mill industry beginning in the 1980s was a major exodus that left over half of Pittsburgh’s properties abandoned. As time passed, many of the buildings grew dilapidated and became a safety hazard. In response, the City began to decommission these properties leaving us with the pockets of vacant land all across Pittsburgh. To date, over $5.6 million must be put towards proper maintenance of the vacant lots which have continued to burden a City who also lost half of its tax base.
Out of these circumstances birthed the Adopt-A-Lot Program, a vacant lot strategy that would allow community members to access City owned property for edible or flower gardening, raised beds and rain barrels. The program officially launched in November 2015 making it a very new endeavor. Many people are unfamiliar with this process. The Department of City Planning has done much to make the application process more accessible. Our program is stepping up to further bridge the gap between City assistance and residential need!
Some common road blocks residents face when completing their application include:
- Drafting a Site Plan of the Area
- Developing a List of Materials + Cost Estimation
- Developing a Maintenance Plan
- Conducting a Lead-Level Soil Test
Who We Are
We at 9 Ether intend to bridge that gap for residents by providing quality design, preliminary cost estimate and landscape services that will streamline the Adopt-A-Lot Process. Our vision is to evolve this process into a workforce development program that educates local high school students on sustainable landscape design principles and practice. We believe that community development begins with people. This program seeks to empower residents in a way that can advance food security, improve air quality and increase property values.
Why It Is Important
In 2012 it was reported that of all the practitioners in both the agriculture and architecture industries African Americans make up less than two percent. As a Minority Women Business Enterprise, our team takes pride in the ability to be of service to our community as professionals, educators and role models. Our efforts look towards increasing awareness and interest in these fields.
Our focus area is in Homewood-Brushton a neighborhood that has a high rate of vacancy and residents who have expressed deep interest in starting their own gardens but may not be familiar with the more technical aspects required for the Adopt-A-Lot Program. With the capital gained through this grant, we will be able to provide this service free of charge for 30 residents in Homewood as a proof of concept but this is no charity. With your help, this will ultimately become a self-sustaining business venture that will benefit the community!