Jeffery Fraser

Jeffery is Pittsburgh Today's senior editor, a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Quarterly. In his past life, he was a reporter and editor for newspapers large and small, only one of which is still in business. His magazine and newspaper reporting has won numerous awards.

An Answer from Abroad

If southwestern Pennsylvania is going to pull out of its long population slump, it’s likely going to happen with people like Khara Timsina. He arrived in Pittsburgh 10 years ago, one of fewer than 300 Bhutanese refugees resettled from camps in Nepal, where they had lived after being driven from their homeland during a period …

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The Economics of Population

Last spring, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County once again lost population. In what has become a ritual, public officials were pressed by reporters to respond. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald suggested not reading too much into the latest of a long string of down years. Pittsburgh …

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Wolf Wants Pot Legalized, Most Local Residents Agree

When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced his support for legalizing recreational use of marijuana among adults, he echoed the sentiments of the majority of people living in the most populous county in southwestern Pennsylvania. Medical marijuana dispensaries began opening across southwestern Pennsylvania last year after Pennsylvania joined nearly two thirds of U.S. states by …

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How Age Colors Views About the Environment

The air seems cleaner and the water fresher to middle-aged residents and seniors in Allegheny County, the urban center of southwestern Pennsylvania that has had its share of environmental struggles. A pronounced age gap separates the perspectives of residents across a spectrum of environmental issues ranging from air and water quality and the impact of …

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A Slow But Continuing Decline

Gavriel Popper-Keizer was living in sun-swept Santa Barbara when he decided to leave coastal California, where he’d spent most of his life. His girlfriend, Alison, also a lifelong Californian, was on board. The sense of adventure was appealing. Neither had a dream job they would regret leaving. And they had come to grips with the …

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Pittsburgh Air Pollution Report: Particulates Drop, Ozone Rises

Levels of fine particulate air pollution, long an issue in southwestern Pennsylvania, fell in 2018, while ground-level ozone, whose concentrations had been waning in recent years, ticked upward amid concerns that natural gas drilling may be contributing to the rise. Fine particulates, also know as PM2.5, are microscopic airborne particles that can penetrate deep into …

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On the Water

The sun shines more often. Valleys are greening. Summer is on the horizon. And southwestern Pennsylvanians are taking to the region’s abundant streams, rivers and lakes for recreation, as they do each season in impressive numbers. More than 66 percent of residents head to a stream, river or lake for a little recreation. And 37 …

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Survival of the Fittest

Fran and Steve are hiding in the Monroeville Mall, spying on its creepy patrons—gray-skinned zombies who’d once been suburbanites, judging from their apparel. One of the walking dead, a woman, staggers from an appliance store mindlessly dragging a new toaster by the cord. “What are they doing? Why do they come here?” Fran says. “Some …

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Jobs Grow Slowly

Jobs edged up in southwestern Pennsylvania in April compared to the previous year, but the rate of growth was slower than in most of its peer regions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area saw nonfarm jobs increase 0.62 percent from April 2018 to April 2019, which is …

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Could Uber/Lyft Replace Paratransit Vans?

Paratransit vans can be spotted in almost any neighborhood picking up patients whose means, health, or proximity to public transit makes getting to their doctor appointment or medical treatment a hardship. The government-funded vans have done the job for years. But, in a growing number of U.S. counties, the expansion of ride-hailing services has provoked …

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A Greener View

People in the heart of southwestern Pennsylvania have adopted a rosier view of the region’s environment in recent years. In the minds of half of Allegheny County residents, the overall environment found in the region is improving. Seven years earlier, only 39 percent felt the same way, according to surveys done by Pittsburgh Today and …

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Is Cannabis Safe and Effective?

Antoine Douaihy is intrigued by the use of marijuana to treat chronic pain. As an addiction specialist, he’s keenly aware of the value of safe and effective alternatives to prescribing opioids. Several studies suggest pot could be one, at least with some patients, and pain is one of 21 state-approved conditions that get you a …

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High Times for Cannabis

Solveo Wellness opened its doors as Pittsburgh’s first medical marijuana dispensary in February 2018 to customers young and old who braved the cold in a line that wrapped around its Squirrel Hill building. It was warmer in August, but the scene was the same when the dispensary added cannabis flower to its menu. If that …

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Degrees of Influence

Question: Who in Allegheny County is more likely to own the home they live in—residents with a college degree, those with some college or other post-secondary schooling, or those who never took their formal education beyond high school? It’s not the person with a college degree. Some 72 percent of residents with no more than …

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Local Economy Stays Healthy

Pittsburgh’s spirited bid fell short of landing Amazon’s second headquarters and the 25,000 jobs it promised last year, but the southwestern Pennsylvania economy continued encouraging trends in job growth, wages and unemployment on its own. Without the jolt of such a major employment stimulus, the region’s hopes are pinned on creating jobs with the companies …

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More People Are Leaving the Region. Does It matter?

Sometime in 2008, more people began moving into the cities and suburbs of southwestern Pennsylvania from other parts of the country than were leaving for places and opportunities elsewhere. It was a watershed moment, the long-awaited reversal of a decades-long trend of being on the losing end of U.S. migration patterns. It proved to be …

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How Healthy are Allegheny County Residents?

In their own view, people in Allegheny County are generally healthier than the nation’s population. They’re also smoking less. Only 16 percent of county residents overall described their general health as fair or poor in the Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey conducted in June. Nationally, 18.4 percent of Americans say they’re in fair or …

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Mandating Affordable Housing: A Complex Zoning Challenge

One Pittsburgh neighborhood could soon test a brand of zoning that requires developers to include affordable housing in new market-rate projects as a way to build the inventory of units available for residents earning less than the city’s median income. Pittsburgh recently joined cities in 25 states that have adopted some form of inclusionary zoning, …

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Desperate for Affordable Housing, Cities Try Rewriting Zoning Laws

The last Penn Plaza apartments were vacated on a cold February day in 2017, ending an exodus of 200 tenants from one of the largest complexes of affordable housing in Pittsburgh. News that the private owner planned to raze the apartments to accommodate upscale development caught the city off guard a year earlier and taxed …

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The Quality of Life Survey Results Are In

Allegheny County residents say their quality of life has improved since they were last surveyed seven years ago, with more of them reporting rising incomes and expressing greater confidence in the local economy. Pittsburgh’s bid to become Amazon’s new headquarters gets a thumbs-up from a majority of county residents, who also favor loosening the reins …

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Airing Concern

Historically lower ozone pollution levels in southwestern Pennsylvania do not impress residents of Allegheny County whose concern is rising over the quality of the air they breathe. Seven years ago, air quality wasn’t a problem in the minds of 47 percent of county residents. Today, only 32 percent of Allegheny County residents share that view, …

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Scrimping to Get By

Paying their housing costs is a struggle for an alarming number of Americans across the country and Allegheny County is no exception. Nearly one-third of Americans spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing. The number of households dealing with such costs has risen from 16 million in 2001 to more than 38 …

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