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November 25, 2015 | Ryan Deto | Pittsburgh City Paper
Rashad Byrdsong drives around back streets of Homewood until he stops at the 7000 block of Monticello Street. Abandoned structures and vacant lots sit next to a handful of well-kept homes. Kids, just out of school at nearby Westinghouse Academy, walk down the street.
Byrdsong, president of the Community Empowerment Association, a neighborhood-advocacy group, says this is one of the more violent sections of the area. Several shootings have occurred here just amid a three-house cluster; a bullet hole is still visible in one of the windows. Behind this group of homes is a structure that looks dangerously close to collapsing entirely.
“This house is reflective of hundreds of homes like it in Homewood,” says Byrdsong. “It is almost like these conditions are considered ordinary in the neighborhood.”
Pittsburgh City Councilor Ricky Burgess, who represents Homewood, recently wrote a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed calling the neighborhood a “community in crisis.”
“Homewood has the highest number of shootings and gun-related deaths in Pittsburgh,” wrote Burgess. “Homewood also has the city’s largest number of vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties. There are no grocery stores, no drugstores, no clothing stores and no name-brand store of any kind.”