Senate committee examines challenges of PA cities, population trends

HARRISBURG — The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee examined some of the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities of all sizes during a public hearing on Tuesday, according to Committee Chairman David G. Argall (R-29).

The hearing focused on the findings of a recent report by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University that detailed the effects of population changes in large and small cities throughout the state. The report found that while population loss in cities peaked decades ago, the lingering effects of urban flight continue in the form of urban decay and blight.

“The findings of this report confirm the fact that there is no easy one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. Each community faces its own set of challenges, and it is the responsibility of all of us to work closely with local communities to overcome these obstacles,” Argall said. “Over the past several years, we have worked together on a bipartisan basis to give communities a wider range of options to deal with the problem, and a similar approach to the issues of urban flight and decay could yield positive results.”

The report, presented by Teri Ooms, Executive Director for the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, urged lawmakers to support policies conducive to economic growth, including local government reform, improving access to federal and state programs, eliminating blight, exploring the benefits of public-private partnerships, supporting business development and ensuring proper land use planning and management.

Testimony from the hearing is available here.