Fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, and dairy are the building blocks of a healthy diet that help prevent chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Pittsburgh has some fantastic groups working on fresh food and food security around the city and helping to promote community gardening and urban farming. Yet many of our neighborhoods are still classified as food deserts –- areas not served by retailers offering fresh foods. While strides have been made to rectify the problem, such as the grocery store being built in the Hill District, we have a great deal of work to do to ensure that all residents have access to fresh, healthy food in their neighborhoods. Cities around the country are working on innovative ways to do a better job of providing healthy food options and Pittsburgh has a lot of opportunities to learn from these initiatives and create some of our own.
Pittsburgh has, on average, some of the oldest housing stock in the nation. We have grand old homes that have fallen into disrepair because their owners don’t have the resources to maintain them or because they have been abandoned and the city doesn’t have the resources to restore them or tear them down. Yet we have hundreds of unemployed residents who would relish a chance to learn new skills and get back to work – many who live in the very same neighborhoods that these forgotten homes stand in. We need to create a program to connect unemployed or underemployed residents with job and skill-training opportunities that would come from helping to restore these old homes. Imagine if we could create good paying jobs and rebuild our neighborhoods at the same time. This is exactly what I want to do. I will create the ReBuild Pittsburgh program to put people in our neighborhoods to work restoring these old homes and learning new skills at the same time.
Several years ago, New York City embarked on an innovative experiment to determine if they could help people living in poverty begin to save money in savings accounts. Working with the federal government and a group of behavioral economists, New York City officials created a program called SaveUSA. The idea behind the program is that creating incentives for low- and moderate-income people to begin saving money would relieve some of the pressure on their families, allow them to make the purchases that would bring them closer to the middle class, and expand financial literacy and responsibility. The results of the experiment were remarkable. The 1,600 New York City families who participated in the SaveUSA program had saved nearly $1 million dollars after the first year, more than $600 per family. New York City officials believe that SaveUSA can be a path out of poverty for many of the families who participate. I believe it can work for Pittsburghers, too.
Building financial literacy is one of the best ways that government can help people work their way out of poverty and debt and begin to build a sustainable financial foundation for themselves and their families. There are many programs available at the state and federal levels to aid low- and moderate-income families with their finances but it can often be difficult to find out about them or gain access to them. Many cities across the country have pulled all of these resources together into physical locations where people can go to learn more about them and to take advantage of them. There are already a few great nonprofit groups in Pittsburgh doing bits and pieces of this work and I would like to work with them to pull together everything under one roof and help connect them to the people who need these services the most. I will create Financial Empowerment Centers in Pittsburgh that help people take advantage of these important opportunities.
With less than one month until Election Day, Mayoral candidate Bill Peduto is focusing on opportunities this week as part of web-based initiative to reveal his plan to change Pittsburgh. His 100 Days/100 Policies initiative this week will include Summer Youth Employment in High-Tech Industries, ReBuild Pittsburgh, Financial Empowerment Centers, and Fresh Food Initiatives.
Pittsburgh’s Summer Youth Employment Program provides paid job opportunities for several hundred Pittsburgh youth each year. The program gives kids an opportunity to gain some real-world work experience, make a bit of money, and make connections with employers and other youth. The program is a joint venture of the City of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Foundation, and corporate sponsors and allows kids between the ages of 14 and 21 to apply to participate. The Summer Youth Employment Program is a fantastic partnership and something that we absolutely must continue to support. However, I would like to bring in a more diverse set of site partners and allow kids to enter a broader field of summer jobs that will better prepare them for the kinds of jobs that are available in our region. We must expand the program to provide kids exposure to jobs in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.
Pittsburgh’s 14th Ward Democratic Club today endorsed Bill Peduto for Mayor. This endorsement is one of more than 20 endorsements Peduto has garnered for the Democratic Primary. The 14th Ward is largest in the city. Approximately 18 percent of the vote for the upcoming election is expected to come from the 14th Ward, representing Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze, and North Point Breeze. “I am very proud to have received the endorsement of the 14th Ward Democratic Club,” says Peduto. “They represent voters who are committed to progressive change in Pittsburgh government.”
Clifford B. Connelly Trade School, which opened in 1930 and closed in 2004, represented a beacon of opportunity for so many Pittsburghers who aspired to enter technical and vocational fields and sought the kind of skilled training that would allow them to get the jobs that built this city, from manufacturing to metalworking. Connelly was a national model of technical and vocational education and opened new doors of opportunity to generations of Pittsburghers. Those opportunities still exist but these days it can be difficult for students seeking them to take the courses they need to build their skill sets. While many Pittsburgh Public Schools still offer technical and vocational courses, now called career and technical education or CTE courses, they are spread piecemeal throughout city high schools. I would like to work with Pittsburgh Public Schools, our trade unions, and private industry to create a Pittsburgh Connelly for the 21st century.
“Chronic and deliberate indifference,” is what Pittsburgh Mayoral Candidate Bill Peduto calls Public Safety director Michael Huss’ rejection of an innovative plan to put off-duty police officers on the streets to improve public safety on the South Side.
By all accounts, expanding access to early childhood education is among the wisest investment that can be made in efforts to strengthen Pittsburgh’s economy. Mayoral candidate Bill Peduto is committed to doing just that. According to the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the United States Chamber of Commerce, for every dollar spent in early childhood, savings range form $2.50 to as much as $17 over time. During a press conference today held at Downtown’s Small World Early Learning Center, Peduto said, “We know that children who receive high-quality early education are set on a path to happier, healthier, and more productive lives. If we want kids to be Promise-ready, we have to start them now.”