Home to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, the Carnegie Museums and Library, Phipps Conservatory, and the expansive Schenley Park, Oakland, a neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a product of the City Beautiful movement. It is a center of knowledge, art, and culture, enriched by its civic spaces and ample greenery.
The University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning
Oakland's universities, however, have distorted its housing market:
- Students demand low-rent properties, and developers have obligingly chopped up Oakland's capacious, single-family homes to capitalize upon this demand. Consequences of this include an imbalance between renter-occupied and owner-occupied properties, a lack of single-family residences suitable for families, and the deterioration of historic properties that otherwise might have been preserved;
When properties are on the market, developers often out-bid individual home buyers;
Blighted properties are not uncommon due to absentee landlords and raucous students.
If these distortions are not addressed, Oakland will cease to be a mixed-income, intergenerational community, and that shift will hurt Oakland's businesses and institutions alike. The Oakland 2025 Master Plan puts forth a range of demand-side and supply-side proposals to increase home ownership to counter the aforementioned distortions, including:
- An employer-assisted housing program. Participating Oakland employers would offer a financial incentive, down-payment assistance, for example, to house-hunting employees who choose to purchase a home in Oakland. By reducing commute length, employees' work-life balance would be improved, helping employers retain talent;
- Branding Oakland. To increase single-family home ownership, Oakland will need to attract new home owners. These might include freshly minted graduates hired by Pittsburgh employers, young professionals beginning families, and empty-nesters. Oakland will need to market its institutional, cultural, and recreational resources. The plan suggests that cyclists and runners might be attracted to Panther Hollow, a community near the Allegheny Passage and Eliza Furnace Trail, as golfers are attracting to communities abutting the green.
A Well-Maintained Neighborhood in North Oakland: A Marketable Brand?
To read all of the proposals, take a look at the “Plan Themes and Program Initiatives” section of the Oakland 2025 Master Plan. Hint: You should read the proposals because they're creative and likely to be quite effective.
Did your college or university distort the surrounding housing market? Comment here or on Twitter!
Credits: Photographs by Sunny Menozzi. Data cited through links.