Developer Incentives, $10 Mil Trust Fund & Tax Credit Part Of Affordable Housing Proposal

Apr 29, 2016

Members of the community organization Homes for All PGH gathered before a city council meeting and public hearing on affordable housing.
Credit Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

At a hearing Thursday, the Affordable Housing Task Force presented its recommendations to protect low-income housing options in Pittsburgh to City Council members.

After several months of collecting public input, the task force recommends establishing an annual $10 million housing trust fund and expanding the 4 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credit. It also proposed offering incentives for inclusionary housing for developments with 25 or more units that are receiving a public subsidy. Other recommendations include preserving the affordability of houses returning to market and programs to protect existing affordable housing, such as just cause and notification requirements for eviction and relocation assistance.

This could mean good news for some city residents, such as Ashley Wright. Wright, 29, lives in the Mexican War Streets. She said she needs to be located there to have access to her bus route and get to work. 

"It's not fair for other families to get kicked out of their house," Wright said. "I was displaced with my mother and other brothers and sisters (when I was young)." 

Wright joined dozens of residents from across the city to share their stories at the public hearing.

"Sometimes I've got to make a choice," Wright said. "It's either my lights, my gas or my rent. And I'd rather pay for my rent because my kids need to stay somewhere."

At the hearing, many Pittsburgh residents said the city's Affordable Housing Task Force's draft recommendations don't go far enough to ensure the security and accessibility of affordable housing in the city.

The proposal that drew the most criticism from residents was incentivizing developers to incorporate affordable housing units, rather than mandating it.

Members of the community group Housing For All PGH said other major cities that have had success addressing housing equality have mandated the inclusion of affordable units. 

City Council members said they plan to review the task force’s recommendations in May.