Dan Friedson and the Community Economic Development Clinic

Professor Dan Friedson updates news from the Community Economic Development in Clinic Matters, the newsletter of Pitt Law's clinics:

Fighting Foreclosures
The Community Economic Development Clinic (CED) at Pitt Law has been dedicated to fighting foreclosures since we opened our doors in 2004, thanks to the Heinz Endowments. We continued our work with Irene McLaughlin, the Office of the Mayor and Regional Housing Legal Services this year helping families in Southwestern Pennsylvania keep their family homes. This otherwise cumbersome title-work and counseling of complex property law issues was superbly executed by our CED 3rd Year law students. Many thanks to all the title companies that provide services to our clients pro bono!

Student Safety and Fairness re Landlords
In past years the CED assisted the City of Pittsburgh in reviewing nuisance and blight reduction legislation in other jurisdictions. Unfortunately, the CED was never consulted on the final versions of the bills and they may pass into law this year. Subsequently, a landlord association sued the City to prevent the passage of the Landlord-Tenant Registration Act. We reviewed apartment registration legislation for constitutionality issues.

While the CED clinic fulfilled about 60 requests for counseling and lease review and/or altering, we went to court (or are in court) for 6 Pitt students whose landlords either jeopardized their safety or dealt harshly with student tenants. For more resources about this, visit the Office of Off Campus Living at http://www.ocl.pitt.edu/ for download-able practical guides for student renters.

Green Businesses
Green Business Forum – Students elected to be part of the CED “Green Team” and executed a presentation with community partners, Councilman William Peduto, Grow Pittsburgh, Sustainable Pittsburgh. One student said he learned the following lessons: “The forum allowed me to gain some experience in public speaking, and trying to arrange a presentation in a neat, organized, and effective manner. I gained some valuable business knowledge while conducting research and answering questions, and learned some tips on how to professionally communicate to a small group.” The CED went on to serve the needs of 5 “green” start-up businesses this year.

Arts & Entertainment (A&E)
The CED, along with East Liberty Development, Inc. took a former PNC Bank site and created ArtDimensions Pittsburgh, a local arts and entertainment industry business incubator which offers low cost gallery and teaching space for artists, legal literacy classes for artists and offices for A&E companies. This was a blight reduction strategy for vacant buildings in Pittsburgh’s East End, currently reclaiming 6000 Penn Avenue at Highland in East Liberty. To reclaim this property the students obtained permits and negotiated safety tests for the building including, private mold inspection and building inspections. The Director of the CED Clinic, Dan Friedson and one other volunteer, Owen Vandivier, abated the mold problem at their own expense. Follow up inspection showed significant abatement, thus going above the legal requirements of PA for safety. Currently with 30 members since opening in the end of January 2009, ArtDimensions has produced 3 art shows, which in turn raised money for local nonprofits. The CED clinicians produced two community seminars for Musical and Visual Artists. Attendees of these seminars were offered one free legal service, such as copyright registration, LLC formation or contract review. The CED provided these services to 12 local artists or A&E companies.