Pittsburgh’s Black Exodus: Where Are They Going?

Pittsburgh’s Black Exodus: Where Are They Going?

If we know anything from the last census and The State of Black Pittsburgh report, we know that Pittsburgh is losing Black People. That same report told us that there was a higher infant mortality rate for Black Women in Pittsburgh. They also found that Black People face higher poverty rates, lower rates of employment, and face more health issues than similar places in the country. Just moving away from Pittsburgh increases Black People’s life expectancy and creates more opportunities for socioeconomic mobility. It’s been about three years since that report dropped and my question is what have we done to address these issues now that we know they exist? Pittsburgh is famous for studying something over and over without action. The only hope to stop this erasure of diversity in the Pittsburgh region is action. So we studied it, now what?

What if anything has been done to address the bigger inequalities for Black People in Pittsburgh? Why aren’t more elected officials banding together to address this exodus? We’re not just losing people we’re losing culture. I remember East Liberty before Target and Lawrenceville before random shops showed up on Butler. Housing isn’t affordable anymore because the market rate is not marketable to someone who can’t afford to live somewhere they’ve lived their entire lives. What I’m seeing and probably other people are seeing across the city is that Black People are being pushed to the suburbs because the price of housing is going up higher than people’s salaries. Displacement is creating problems and people don’t want to survive they want to thrive in Pittsburgh. Black People can’t thrive in Pittsburgh until someone sees the inequalities and gets together to decide to do something about the statistics. For example, there has to be a way to figure out which companies are paying minorities less than counterparts for the same jobs. It’s time to pick the report apart piece by piece and actually apply an action item to it.

When I lived in Corona, Queens, I got treated better there than being Black in Pittsburgh does. I’m noticing the rent keeps going up in the city and Pittsburgh is no New York or California. Pittsburgh isn’t doing anything to walk the walk when it comes to wooing Black People to stay. Sure, it’s talking the talk by doing reports like this. We can study inequities in Pittsburgh until our faces turn blue but studying doesn’t stop the steady migration of people leaving.

In a city that’s described as the City of Bridges, can the city build a bridge to affordable housing, racial and housing equality?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. MsShona says:

    I am originally from Clairton. I left for college (WV) and then lived in Miami for almost a decade. I returned to the Pittsburgh area (McKeesport) and tried to give it an honest chance. I mean the Mon Valley made me who I am. I liked the familiarity, how affordable and unpretentious it was. However I also had this oppressive feeling of being stuck. At first it wasn’t me personally — just so much about the environment. And then it trickled down to me. Ultimately it was a relationship breakup that prompted me to leave the area and move to Harrisburg 3 years ago. People ask me if I miss Pittsburgh. ‘Not really’ is my quick response. I know it is a different environment and economy – Harrisburg’s is government & service based, so there has been no real economic decline that was irrecoverable. Cost of living is low but so are wages (if you want to become rich, I don’t think Harrisburg is a place that would be on your radar to relocate to). And like sooo many PA cities, the public schools are struggling. But even with all that, the mood here, especially among the Black and Hispanic population is so much more positive. Black owned-businesses are easy to find. So many of my minority peers, even the ones that are single mothers like me, are homeowners and have their kids in great schools and extra-curriculars. That was not the case in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh seems to have ignored and forgotten its Black community. It is pretty sad, but I don’t fight to love things that don’t love me back.


    1. I absolutely agree with Pittsburgh forgetting about Black People. It’s a typical case of the city loving the culture and then out pricing everyone who made such culture. It’s a case of, “there goes the consequences of my own actions” and it’s sad because it’s almost like the city doesn’t know what to do about it.


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