At What Cost? Beyond Pittsburgh’s Homicide Rates

Congratulations on Pittsburgh having the lowest homicide rate in twenty years. As someone who lives in the suburbs outside of Pittsburgh I see the whole picture. Rent has gone up in the city. Affordable housing has been destroyed in some “up and coming” communities and displacement is real. According to Oxford Dictionary, displacement is described as “the enforced departure of people from their homes, typically because of war, persecution, or natural disaster.” Most of the time displacement is the result of a natural disaster or gentrification. In Pittsburgh the latter is the case.

A recent report describes a Pittsburgh exodus of 7,000 black people since 2014. Do we not think any of these puzzle pieces are connected? It’s not to infer that black people are related to the lower homicide rate but reflection has to occur. Upon reflection I thought about the exodus and one of the bigger issues displacement. Pittsburgh has perfected the art of moving poor communities to other poor communities outside of Pittsburgh.

Small suburbs with less resources are left to address the issues that the city chooses to ignore. I’ve seen it time and time ago. A family who has lived in a community all their lives isn’t included in the strategic plan of the redevelopment of their neighborhood and has to seek affordable housing elsewhere.

Most people question what’s wrong with that? People move every day.

Those people fail to think about the why of some displaced residents. Some neighborhoods have conflict with other neighborhoods just on the name alone and some people are fleeing a violent situation to end up in a small suburb plagued by violence and end up in another violent situation but in a new neighborhood.

It’s awesome that the homicide rate is decreasing somewhere but it’s disappointing that not one article addressed violence as a disease. When you don’t address a sick person and just move them somewhere else they’re still sick and infect other persons. Until we speak about the root of violent behavior (it’s not just one thing) we’re putting a bandaid on an injury that needs a surgical procedure. Let’s not ignore the disease model of violent behavior because we’re unsure of our insurance will cover it and Google told us the remedy was to shuffle people around like a deck of cards without giving anyone the instructions on how to play. 

Let’s hope 2020 brings an even lower homicide rate and let’s as communities make efforts to address violence as a disease with proactive approaches and not just as thing that happens.

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