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Transformation Of Homewood West Community Essay

2474 words - 10 pages

Homewood West is located on the eastern side of Pittsburgh and is one of the three neighborhoods that make up the Homewood community, along with Homewood North and Homewood South. Homewood West was once a thriving neighborhood with an abundance of upper-class families and an economy that depended heavily on the city’s railroad system, that made economic opportunities readily available and housing that was affordable and convenient (Allegheny County DHS 2010). African-Americans were the first to inhabit Homewood, However many whites moved into the neighborhood, causing tension within the community, during a time period where racism was still a major factor in society. According to the Allegheny DHS (2010), by 1910, Homewood’s population was 30,000. Residents and workers who came to Homewood were skilled workers and small business owners (Allegheny DHS 2010). The social classes were that of a stable neighborhood; the upper middle class, the working class family, and the poor. This would change drastically over the next century when a massive influx of African-Americans migrated into Homewood. By the early 1960’s, Homewood was 70 percent black (Allegheny DHS 2010). The riots that took place after the Martin Luther King assassination, caused damage to businesses which led to the failure of the railroad system, making this the main reason the change in demographics caused the economy of Homewood to collapse (Allegheny DHS 2010). This scared away white and black middle class families, who left for more stable jobs in the city, as African-Americans continued to pour into the now unstable economy of Homewood West toward the end of the industrial era. Today, after the drop in population, more than a third of people live in poverty, and 17.8 percent of residents are unemployed (U.S Census Bureau 2010). These are all reasons why Homewood West now has an unstable economy. The massive influx of African Americans and the departure of whites to find better jobs in the city resemble The White Flight Black Flight theory, highlighted in Dr. Rachael Woldoff’s book, White Flight Black Flight. Now, Homewood West has a total population of 818 people, which has steadily declined since the 1950’s (U.S. Census 2010). This transformation has had some major effects on this neighborhood, making economic opportunities hard to find. A lack of quality education, and high crime rates have caused businesses to leave the area, creating vacant buildings and broken down homes, lowering the value of properties and the hopes of bringing businesses back to the community. Residents in Homewood are affected by all these things and have the community at a standstill, looking for ways to fix them.

Demographics and Crime

My first perception of Homewood made me a little nervous about the idea of going into a neighborhood with such a high crime rate, especially being a kid from a suburban area with mostly white middle class families. Going into a neighborhood that was 95.6 percent black...

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