Affordable Housing

City Affordable Housing Task Force Convenes For First Time

Aug 3, 2015
Dave Nin / flickr

Nearly six months after its creation, the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force met for the first time last week.  The group’s mission is to help maintain healthy neighborhoods by finding solutions to housing issues and developing strategies to keep communities affordable.  Task force co-chair and city Planning Director Ray Gastil shares what was said at the first meeting and where the group plans to go from here.

 

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania has been working to expand the Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund statewide; the organization will continue that work following the release of a report that shows a person would have to make $15.12 an hour in wages to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate in Allegheny County.

The problem, according to Alliance Executive Director, Liz Hersh, is that many people don’t make that much money.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As you drive from Oakland to Downtown via Fifth Avenue, you still see many older buildings, but adding to the landscape now are two newly-constructed apartment buildings offering low-cost housing. One of the Uptown buildings is solely for people who have aged out of the foster care system.

“We have 24 young adults who will be moving into those units, and on the other side of the street we have 23 units that will available for working people with modest incomes,” said Larry Swanson, executive director of Action Housing.

Following a report last week that affordable housing is getting harder to come by for low and very-low income families, a bill being introduced in Harrisburg would expand a program that improves rental housing in communities.

The Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund was established in 2010 and first funded in 2012 with Marcellus Shale impact fees. It’s only available in Marcellus areas, but the expansion bill would extend the program statewide, without raising taxes or fees.

City Councilman Daniel Lavelle has spearheaded efforts to include affordable housing in the redevelopment plan for the lower Hill District, and is now broadening his focus to the city as a whole.

Lavelle has introduced a bill that would create an affordable housing task force, responsible not only for finding ways to preserve and improve existing units, but also to create new ones.

After much discussion, the bill received preliminary approval in City Council on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Lavelle is one step closer to delivering on a promise to constituents that affordable housing would be a key part of the revitalization of the Hill District.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of a proposed change to city code governing specially planned districts, or SP districts.

“Specially Planned Districts are those districts like Southside Works, Station Square … the Pittsburgh Technology Center, and Washington’s Landing,” said zoning administrator Corey Layman.

Big Plans for Tiny Houses in Garfield

Dec 2, 2014
Inhabitat Blog / Flickr

With plenty of vacant lots and green space, people in the Garfield neighborhood have come up with a plan to revitalize the area.

Could tiny homes attract residents and be the key to remaking the area? Joining us to share this vision for Garfield is Rick Swartz, executive director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation.

As the housing market continues to rebound after the 2008 recession, some Pennsylvanian residents are still in need of affordable housing.

Currently in Pennsylvania there is a shortage of about 268,000 affordable housing units, according to Liz Hersh, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Sen. John Blake has purposed a new way of paying for the housing trust fund which is intended to pay to repair and build affordable houses across Pennsylvania, except it has no money.

Act 105 was passed in 2010, but the counties have had a hard time using its provisions due to the lack of funds. Currently payments are to come from Marcellus Shale impact fee, but Blake says it is never getting there. Instead, he wants to add fees to real estate related legal filings.