Wilkinsburg is a diverse community. The people who rent here represent a wide range of life situations. Some are young, single, and working. Some have children, some aspire to purchase a home. Some are older and retired. The merger will impact Wilkinsburg in ways that will enhance the quality of life for everyone.
Through a merger, Wilkinsburg will benefit from Pittsburgh’s greater focus on and capacity for equity and inclusion. Excluding government services, Wilkinsburg residents will gain access to non-profit services that are currently limited to Pittsburgh residents. Also, a merger will create job opportunities for Wilkinsburg residents who want to work for the City of Pittsburgh. (At present, all City of Pittsburgh employees other than police officers must reside within city limits.)
I’m interested in buying a home one day. Would a merger make that easier?
Yes. Pittsburgh has several programs to help people buy their first homes. Because the Pittsburgh property tax rate is less than half of Wilkinsburg’s, the merger would also make monthly payments for homeowners far more affordable.
Will Pittsburgh reassess property value in Wilkinsburg after a merger, causing rents to increase?
This is unlikely for practical and political reasons bigger than a merger between Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg. A change in assessed property values across Wilkinsburg could only happen legally if the entire County were reassessed. The last county-wide reassessment took place in 2013.
Unless another county-wide reassessment is performed, individual properties may only be lawfully reassessed upon sale, if there is an error or omission, if physical changes such as demolitions, subdivisions or new construction/additions are made to the property, or if the property owner makes an appeal. Find out more about property assessments in Allegheny County here: https://www.pghfirm.com/real-estate/property-assessments-overview/assessment-faqs
What new services or resources will I have access to with a merger?
Besides delivering more robust basic public safety and infrastructure services, Pittsburgh offers a variety of services the Borough does not, including:
- Short term housing assistance
- Legal and rental assistance for tenants
- Incentives for landlord improvements
- Purchase assistance for new homeowners
- Financial assistance for property rehabilitation
- Financial assistance for accessibility updates
These programs are provided through the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which also offers programs to promote the development of affordable housing. There is also an Office of Equity, charged with making Pittsburgh a place that offers opportunity to all residents, regardless of race, gender, ability, age, or sexual orientation.
Will a merger cause my rent to go up?
If we merge, property taxes would go down for property owners, including landlords. Each landlord would decide how to use those savings. However, remember that landlords are competing for tenants. Landlords who use property tax savings to stabilize rents and/or improve the condition of their properties will benefit from lower turnover and higher demand.
How would a merger effect my Housing Choice Voucher?
If you have a Housing Choice Voucher or live in a building with a rental subsidy, the value of your voucher or subsidy won’t change based on the merger. HUD sets maximum fair market rents for the Pittsburgh region. Maximum fair market rents vary within and around Pittsburgh, but are not determined by local government. Area Median Income (AMI) and income limits used by HUD are area wide. All of Allegheny County is a part of the Pittsburgh HUD Metro FRM Area.
The application and renewal process may differ since Pittsburgh has its own Housing Authority. (Wilkinsburg is currently covered only by the County Housing Authority.)
How would a merger affect taxes and fees I currently pay?
The answer depends on your current situation. People who pay income tax would pay 3% instead of Wilkinsburg’s current rate of 1%. Pensions and Social Security income are not taxed. Conversely, Pittsburgh does not have a separate garbage collection fee, so renters who currently pay that $200 annual fee would no longer have to pay it.
I have children. How would a merger with Pittsburgh benefit them?
With a merger, children would have additional educational options through Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS). There are also many organizations that currently offer services for families and children only within the Pittsburgh City limits. If a merger occurred, Wilkinsburg residents would immediately qualify for those services.
What school district would my children attend if a merger goes through?
A municipal merger would automatically initiate a school district merger, and children in Wilkinsburg would attend PPS. Pittsburgh is a neighborhood-based school district, particularly at the elementary level. With no current PPS elementary schools located within walking distance from Wilkinsburg, Kelly Elementary and Turner Intermediate schools would likely remain open, perhaps with some PPS students who live nearby attending.
PPS also has extensive magnet schools and programs and a thriving program for gifted and talented students, and the district’s special education and social-emotional programs far surpass the programs currently available in Wilkinsburg. With a full school district merger, children of Wilkinsburg residents would be eligible for all of these programs.
Learn more about how a merger would effect educational opportunities here.