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Geospatial Analysis of Gun Violence in Allegheny County, with focus on City of Pittsburgh

All people, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, deserve to live in neighborhoods that are safe and free of violence. Overall violence, and gun violence victimization in particular, is not randomly distributed, however. Rather, gun violence is heavily concentrated in just a small number of higher-need communities and overwhelmingly cuts short the lives of young Black men.

Some neighborhoods are more susceptible to gun violence as a result of decades of discriminatory housing, lending and land-use policy; outmigration and the impacts of deindustrialization and economic restructuring; the crack-cocaine epidemic and the ensuing War
on Drugs; and persistent disinvestment and abandonment. Additionally, the absence of stricter firearm control in the United States has led to interpersonal crime that is far more likely to turn deadly than in other countries with similar levels of crime but much lower rates of gun ownership.

Using data from the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner (ACOME), I analyzed homicide trends from 2016 through 2021; I did this for my day job as an analyst at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. Homicides make up about a quarter of gun violence each year, with non-fatal shootings accounting for most gun violence. As such, I also used data from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (PBP) to analyze trends in non-fatal shootings. The full report can be accessed here.

I also built out this interactive homicide map which allows users to examine homicide trend data in Allegheny County from 2007 through 2021 by location, block group, census tract, and municipality.

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Gentrification and Displacement in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Project has largely focused on the antecedents of persistent poverty and racial segregation/exclusion. For the following analysis we focus instead on those places that have changed dramatically in Allegheny County over the past 20 years.

In fact, challenges related to gentrification and displacement are the other side of the coin regarding persistent poverty and segregation/exclusion. Our poorest communities are so because of intentional decisions at the federal, state and local levels that starved poor Black and Brown communities of investment, in addition to the effects of white flight, outmigration and deindustrialization. It is these same communities that are the most at-risk for gentrification and displacement, given their high concentration of vulnerable residents and the nature of more traditional forms of economic development. This is especially true of development that does not offer protections for existing residents who could be pushed out as the result of higher rents and increases in property taxes.

Gentrification is the movement of higher income, higher educated residents into what are historically lower income neighborhoods and is accompanied by rising home values.

The Pittsburgh Neighborhood project assessed whether lower income neighborhoods at the start of the 21st century stayed the same or significantly changed as of 2019 American Community Survey five-year estimates on measures of household income, home value and in the percentage of college educated residents. We also assessed whether gentrification is associated with significant changes in the racial/ethnic/income demographics of neighborhoods, for lower income tracts that did gentrify.

Overall, most census tracts that were considered low-income did not gentrify by 2019. However, several tracts in Pittsburgh’s East End and on Pittsburgh’s Northside gentrified and experienced considerable displacement, with poor Black residents being the most effected group.

Click here to read about major results of the study and to explore our interactive map on gentrification and displacement in Allegheny County census tracts from 2000 to 2015-2019.