Welcoming new neighbors: Mayor Peduto releases plan to diversify Pittsburgh
June 23, 2015 12:00 AM
“In Pittsburgh, immigrants are part of our DNA,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a letter introducing the plan. His goal is to grow the city’s population by 20,000 residents during the next decade.
By Luke Nozicka / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh lost more than half of its population during the past 55 years, something Mayor Bill Peduto hopes to counteract with a multi-pronged plan to increase the city’s immigrant population and diversity.
The plan, released Monday, consists of three parts: Welcome, Neighbor!, which focuses on citizenship, learning and teaching about diverse communities; Bridge to the City, which is to help with policy and services; and Prospering Together, which aims to create more jobs for immigrants.
In all, it lists 37 strategies to be implemented during the next five years.
“In Pittsburgh, immigrants are part of our DNA,” Mr. Peduto said in a letter introducing the plan. His goal is to grow the city’s population by 20,000 residents during the next decade.
He hopes to do this by holding Citizenship Days, beginning June 27, at least twice a year to support and give legal advice to people considering U.S. citizenship, and by creating Welcoming Hubs at select Citiparks community centers to help new Pittsburghers navigate the city.
The city also wants to host more naturalization ceremonies, and has scheduled five for this year. Pittsburgh had its first ceremony, in City Council Chambers, on June 1, when 28 people took the oath of citizenship.
Other recommendations in the plan, which can be viewed below, include establishing a youth ambassador program, hosting new events to celebrate immigrant culture, and providing multilingual employee-rights support.
More than 2,000 people were surveyed about the city before the 47-page plan was pieced together, and of the 435 people born outside the U.S. who were surveyed, 22 percent said navigating the city’s government is a hurdle.
To help change this, the mayor recommends issuing a municipal ID card to “provide a simpler, more welcoming link to services and resources.” The plan cites ID cards used in other cities, such as New York. There the card offers proof of identity; doubles as a library card; and is accepted by participating banks and credit unions to open accounts.
Another way the city wants to build a more welcoming environment for immigrants includes cultural-awareness training for city departments, with an emphasis on the PittsburghBureau of Police and emergency responders, who “present the first opportunity to develop more culturally aware, empathetic interactions with immigrants.”
While more than half of people surveyed who were born outside of the U.S. said they have experienced issues with the city’s public transportation and have struggled to find employment, they seem to enjoy the city.
Seventy-seven percent of them said they “usually or almost always” feel welcome in Pittsburgh, and 54 percent of them said they plan to stay in the city.
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