Nancy Perkins

Document Type

Symposium Article


In the past decade, two attractive multi-use developments have sprung up on the banks of western Pennsylvania’s Monongahela River, improving vast brownfields where large steel plants once stood. The communities that are home to these projects—Homestead and Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood—have unquestionably benefited from these developments, but those benefits have not been evenly distributed. This Article compares these two projects from an environmental justice perspective. It concludes that Homestead is an environmental justice community, and that it has not fared as well as the Southside in the distribution of the benefits associated with brownfield redevelopment. The benefits that are most lacking in Homestead are those related to community empowerment and community identity as reflected in the development itself. Professor Perkins suggests that states amend their brownfield programs to better prepare environmental justice communities well in advance of development in order to assure that projects maximize these important community identity features.