Pittsburgh City Council takes steps to approve realty tax increase, unveils plan to put money into affordable housing fund

Pittsburgh’s City Council with a preliminary vote on Wednesday supported the 0.5 percent increase of the Realty Transfer Tax [RTT] to help fill the Housing Opportunity Fund. That will allow the city to pay for affordable housing projects and initiatives. Additional support for the fund will come from closed-out trust funds and surpluses pulled across city departments. Filling the Housing Opportunity Fund with $10 million yearly was one of the chief recommendations the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force made in May 2016. The road council took to finally allocate funding for affordable housing has been fraught, especially in recent months.

How Pittsburgh-area colleges work to meet students’ mental health needs. We surveyed eight schools about the challenges.

On the campuses of eight Pittsburgh-area colleges and universities, it’s not unusual for students to wait this long, or even longer, for therapy — though some schools did report quicker scheduling. Policies regarding access and use of campus mental health services vary among the schools, affecting how students fare and if they ever use the services at all.

Watch your step: How Pittsburgh businesses can satisfy accessibility rules and still not be open to people with disabilities

The Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA] passed nearly 30 years ago, requiring buildings to become accessible to people with disabilities, whether with automatic doors, grab bars or ramps. Decades later, ADA compliance remains spotty, especially in many of the older buildings that fill Pittsburgh's bustling business districts.

How can we undo institutional racism? Pittsburgh youth gathered in Homewood to take it on

After a recent family gathering, Jaiya Correll-Greene sat down to watch the Disney Channel with her sister. The characters in the show were planning a party and one asked: “What will the theme of the party be?”

“Brown,” one of the other characters replied. “Because no one looks good in brown.”

Correll-Greene was struck. When she was a kid at camp, other kids had made fun of her dark skin. Why would anyone say that brown was ugly — clothes, skin or otherwise?

Key takeaways from our interview with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services director

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When Marc Cherna came to Allegheny County 21 years ago, the area’s youth and family services were seen as “a national disgrace.”

The agency was besieged by scandals. The number of young people being removed from their homes and put in the system was “out of control,” and its budget was rife with problems, he said. Cherna was brought in to rehabilitate. A year after his 1996 start date, Cherna created the county Department of Human Services by taking 32 departments and merging them into five. Residents told his team they would benefit from centralized services.