Local
6:25 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

New Guide Outlines 8-Steps to Fix the Housing Market

In the wake of the nation-wide housing crisis, The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania has released a new publication with ideas on how to strengthen the housing market in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and how to avoid making the same mistakes twice.

"We need to learn the lessons of the past and do it differently going forward," said Liz Hersh, executive director of the statewide coalition.

The 50-page guide, A New Vision for Housing Market Recovery, was made by tapping into the expertise of local housing leaders, each of whom contributed a recommendation for one of the guide's eight chapters. Sections include discussions of foreclosure, homelessness, special needs housing, and home rehabilitation, all based on data about supply and demand gathered by the University of Pittsburgh.

"We are in a time economically and politically where everything is on the table. And we said, instead of this being about he-said, she-said, we need to look at the data," Hersh said.

The data shows the vast majority of affordable housing in Allegheny County comes from the private market and demand far exceeds supply of publicly subsidized units, said Sabina Deitrick, co-director of the University of Pittsburgh's Urban and Regional Analysis Program.

"We have almost 140,000 families and households of extremely and very low income folks and finding affordable housing is oftentimes difficult for them," Deitrick said.

The numbers also show the average housing unit, whether owned or rented, in Allegheny County is just about 50 years old, and closer to 100 years old in certain municipalities. Programs to support the maintenance and upkeep of our older housing stock will be critical, Deitrick said.

Kyra Straussman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority addressed the geographic disparity of housing in Pittsburgh.

"If you read the national press, you'd think that Pittsburgh was revitalized and everything has been taken care of," she said, citing recent "most livable city" accolades. "But those of us in the trenches know it's not all equal across all census tracks. … If you look at the map, you'll see there are a lot of places that have been untouched by Pittsbugh's heralded revitalization. Frankly, it's got to be the most livable city for everyone," she said.