In case you missed it: This week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     Homeless in Philly (Christopher Brown)

    Homeless in Philly (Christopher Brown)

    It’s been a week of gridlock, grit and giving.

     

    Budget blues

    A bill introduced in Harrisburg  would exempt 98% of municipal retirement plans from having to use a public bidding process to hire investment managers.  Depending on who you ask, the current process is arduous or more transparent.

    Another municipal pension bill is on the table, focusing on hiring private investment managers for public pensions. Under state law this would require hiring an independent actuary to prepare an analysis before proceeding further on the bill. Here’s the catch – there’s no money to pay the actuary because there’s no budget. (WITF)Imagine a 20 year-old college student, dependent on state-funded financial aid to pay tuition, getting an email from the bursar’s office regarding an outstanding balance. If you don’t pay, you can’t register for next semester’s classes. What do you do? “Freak out. “Recovery

    Clairton has become the 11th municipality and second city, after Nanticoke, to exit Act 47, Pennsylvania’s program for financially distressed municipalities. By downsizing staff, selling its sewer system and collecting delinquent taxes, Clairton was able to convince the Department of Community and Economic Development  that it is ready to move forward and revitalize the city. Part of the city’s post-industrial future includes a grocery store, increasing retail business and attracting developers.

    Pittsburgh is discovering its post-industrial identity, growing population and entrepreneurial opportunities. But ‘Bridges and Barriers,’ a report funded by the Heinz Foundation, finds that black men are not enjoying the benefits of that redevelopment, and offers specific action to close the gap.

     Housing

    Triangle Park in Philadelphia has spent many years vacant and neglected. Neighbors received news that an apartment building and restaurant have been proposed for the site. (PlanPhilly)

    HUD announced new grants to improve public-housing and neighborhoods. “HUD’s mission of expanding opportunity extends beyond a family’s front door to the neighborhoods where they live,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said. (NextCity)

     Homelessness

    A survey from the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports the number of homeless vets nationwide has decreased, but Chester County is ranked the sixth worst country in housing veterans. It’s known as a wealthy county, and local officials are hoping the poor ranking will bring federal funding for more shelters. (Newsworks)It started with a hairdresser in Easton who gives free haircuts to the homeless. The program has grown through word-of-mouth and social media, and now merchants in Bethlehem providing everything from free pizza to winter coats for those in need. (Lehighvalleylive)

    A Lancaster emergency winter shelter exceeded its fundraising goal and will open for its fifth year of operation, with upgraded showers and shelter for women and children. (Lancasteronline)

    Enjoy your weekend.

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