Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Unsightly Lots Spark Complaints for Habitat for Humanity

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Unsightly Lots Spark Complaints for Habitat for Humanity

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh Habitat for Humanity may be holding a yard sale in Braddock, as in "please buy this yard."

The nonprofit organization has been cited for the deplorable condition of 10 lots it owns in the borough.

Neighbors of the lots, particularly a large lot on Corey Avenue, have complained that the Duquesne-based Habitat's land has become a habitat for vermin.

Linda White, who lives next to a large lot on Corey Avenue, which runs down the hill to Center Street, said all sorts of critters had entered her yard from the filthy lot next door, but none were more startling or upsetting than the snakes.

Ella Jones, the borough administrator, said there were plenty of other property owners in Braddock who own vacant and dirty lots, but no private land owner owns as many vacant lots in Braddock as Habitat for Humanity.

"Habitat is a real, real problem," Jones said.

If Habitat is a problem for Braddock, the organization's executive director, Maggie I. Withrow, said the land in Braddock was and had been a problem for Habitat.

Withrow, who took over as the executive director in October, said the acquisition of the land in Braddock long predated her tenure.

She said she did not understand why the organization had accepted some of the land in the borough that was donated to it. She added that the organization could not afford to spend its resources cleaning up some of those lots.

Two of Habitat's lots on Pitcairn Street, a small street near the railroad tracks at the north end of the borough, are so overgrown "it's like a nice woods," Withrow said.

"We're not at the lawn mower stage. We're at the backhoe and bulldozer stage," she said. "It's very expensive."

During the Day of Caring last year, volunteers from the United Way cleared the Habitat for Humanity property between Center Street and Corey Avenue.

This year, that land was overgrown again. …

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