Seeking a saner place


Figs. 1 and 2. At left, a house in Clairton. There are five flags in the small front yard, including a Betsy Ross flag behind the telephone pole. Visible are two U.S. Army flags, one U.S. flag, and one Confederate battle flag. Photograph by author, April 29, 2020. At right, the old public library in Hazelwood. There is a nice new library branch on Second Avenue. This is the old, abandoned building. Photograph by author, May 1, 2020. Both these communities are predominantly poor and Black.

So there was a very odd and highly suspicious thing about the lease renewal offer from my landlord.

It’s not entirely surprising that shorter terms would mean higher rents. After all, when I moved in, they gave me $500 off for accepting a 15-month lease.

But with this renewal offer, the rent reductions were staggered only for up to an 11-month renewal. For a longer term, the rent started going up again.

I have accepted the 11-month renewal and am expecting to leave my present abode by June 29, 2021.

I assume something unannounced is in store for this place around the time of this expiration. I further assume that it won’t mean cheaper rent. And finally, I assume I am unlikely to get a straight answer from the office if I ask.

I will be considering where I might move that might be sane. Or at least saner. That would likely not be Pittsburgh. I have been deeply disheartened by the social inequality—both racial and economic—here. And it’s continuously in my face.


Megan Guza, “Southwest Pa. shunned as Gov. Wolf eases coronavirus restrictions in 24 northern counties,” TribLive, May 1, 2020,

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