$10 Million Housing Trust Would Benefit Pittsburghers Making Less Than $41K A Year

Jun 1, 2016

Pittsburgh city council members listen during public comment at its Wednesday meeting.
Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

 Pittsburgh is short about 17,000 affordably-priced homes, according to recommendations the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force submitted to City Council on Wednesday.

The homes would benefit families that make at or below 50 percent, or around $25,200, of the city's median household income.

The 26-member task force was created last February to find funding sources to build more affordable units.

Recommendations introduced in April include making better use of the 4 percent tax credit for low income housing, preserving existing affordable housing and creating a housing trust fund.

The fund would need to raise $10 million dollars a year from public funding sources like increases to hotel and commuter taxes to build homes for low-income families over the next decade.

Daniel Lavelle, who represented council on the task force with fellow members Ricky Burgess and Dan Gilman, said that could mean grant money, low interest loans or gap financing for individual projects.

The report recommends half of the funds should be used for families earning at or below 30 percent of the median income, just over $15,300 a year. The other half would be split between families and individuals earning 50 and 80 percent of the median income, or up to $41,000 a year.

The trust would be open to individuals, community groups and development corporations with an advisory board through the Urban Redevelopment Authority both dolling out funding and governing how it's spent.

Lavelle told fellow council members Wednesday that affordable housing is one of the city’s greatest challenges. State and federal dollars for housing have been cut in some areas as much as 50 percent, he said.

“It’s now up to the local jurisdiction to begin really finding out new ways to put dollars behind these efforts in a trust fund as we’ve seen in other cities – Philadelphia and other places," he said. "It can really go a long way leveraging other resources to really address stabilization of neighborhoods and housing needs within the various neighborhoods throughout the city.”

The report states the cost of preserving a unit is significantly less than the cost of building from scratch. The task force recommends making the preservation of the city’s existing 15,000 units a priority.

Council would need to draft legislation to implement the proposal. 

**This article has been updated to reflect both council members Daniel Lavelle and Dan Gilman served on the city's Affordable Housing Task Force.