Housing

Judge Strikes Down Ban On Renting To Felons

Jun 21, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

A Cambria County judge has overturned a borough's prohibition against renting to drug felons.

Judge Tamara Bernstein issued the ruling Thursday, more than four months after Darcy Smith sued the borough of Gallitzin.

Smith, 38, filed her lawsuit after getting an eviction notice upon moving into a new home with her three children. She'd been living elsewhere in the Gallitzin since her release from prison over a year prior.

Reflected Serendipity / flickr

According to the United Nations, approximately one billion people in the world live in sub-standard housing. Some researchers see a viable solution in a unlikely suspect: bamboo.

The plant is a safe and affordable resource that advocates believe could contribute to greener urban environments across the globe.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

Members of an advisory board voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that Allegheny County stop seeking federal funding for transitional housing programs in order to make its grant bids more competitive, and instead focus on permanent housing and "rapid re-housing" services.

But if it's adopted by the county Department of Human Services, the policy change would dry up annual funding streams relied upon by local transitional housing facilities like HEARTH, a Shaler organization that houses survivors of domestic violence.

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.

Ideas Worth Stealing: When Evictions Happen, Laws To Soften The Blow

Mar 8, 2016
Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In July, 2015 the landlord at Penn Plaza, a private multi-family housing development in Pittsburgh’s rapidly gentrifying East Liberty neighborhood, slipped 90-day eviction notices under the doors of all tenants in one of their buildings (tenants of the other building now have until 2017 to vacate).

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

A slow but steady economic recovery means homeowners are spending more on renovations. But where is that money going?

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

At Kutztown University, a lot of students live near campus.

But not Shannon Peitzer.

She's a senior. And every morning she spends at least half an hour driving to school from her apartment.

Irina Zhorov / 90.5 WESA

 

As Selena Strothers walked through her new two-bedroom home, a subsidized public housing unit in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, she intoned one phrase over and over, as a mantra.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

It's the first thing in the morning, which means Ramona DiMassimo has already claimed her spot at one of the desks in the computer room of her apartment building. She says having Internet access down the hall from her apartment has been "habit forming."

Pennsylvania's Houses Are Old — And That's A Problem For Everyone

Dec 9, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

Around Pennsylvania, you'll see lots of historic homes: romantic 18th century red brick houses, stately Victorian-era mansions and dense rowhomes built for industrial workers. 

The state's old houses, half of which were built before 1959, can give a neighborhood character. But they can also cause a lot of problems.

Some of the homes are filled with health hazards like lead paint and ancient wiring. Others are simply falling apart with age.

And many residents can't afford the repairs.

More Housing Coming Soon To Pittsburgh's Strip

Aug 6, 2015

In the 1800’s, the building in the 2400 block of Smallman Street was the Duquesne Cigar Factory. As recently as this week, it was an industrial vacuum cleaner company. And soon, it will be home to 38 more condominiums.

Its neighbors? Other condominium buildings, a whiskey distillery and soon, according to published reports, an Apple Inc. office.

Real estate agent Kathy Wallace lauded Pittsburgh's rich, architectural history. As the Steel City's identity evolved, many buildings were left underutilized and sometimes abandoned as their uses changed over time, she said.

Mixed-Use Building In East Liberty Officially Opens

May 20, 2015

Another new building is up in East Liberty, joining recent developments such as Bakery Square, the Transit Center and several hotels. This one is East Liberty Place South on Penn Avenue, across from a similar-looking building that owner the Community Builders also built.

The building is a mixed-use development that cost about $15 million to construct. It includes 52 one- and two-bedroom apartments that range between $500-$1200 to rent. Most of the apartments are already rented, according to Jim Eby, senior project manager for the Community Builders. The organization has developed other sites in the East Liberty area.

How Affordable is Housing in Pennsylvania?

Feb 12, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Not at all, according to the latest analysis from the Philly Fed.

The vast majority of lower-income households in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware spend more than the conventionally-advised one third of income on housing.

That's the primary takeaway form the Federal Reserve's Philadelphia office housing affordability analysis released Tuesday.

Pittsburgh City Council again delayed action on a bill Wednesday that would create a rental property registry.

“We did hold the bill for two more weeks while we continue to collaborate and work through some of the issues of the bill,” City Council President Bruce Kraus said.

As it stands, the bill requires landlords to submit all available forms of contact information, allowing the city to keep a close eye on problem properties. Owners could face a $500 penalty if they fail to submit their name, address, phone number and email address.

The Pittsburgh region is at the top of a list of similarly-sized metro regions when it comes to home ownership. That’s according to a report from Pittsburgh Today, a nonprofit research organization housed at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Among our 15 benchmark regions, the homeownership rate in Pittsburgh is the highest of all the regions,” said Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today, “and homeownership is a general sign of stability, investedness in the place that you live.”

Flickr user josepha

Pittsburgh has one of the most stable housing markets in the country, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by Zillow Real Estate on behalf of Bloomberg.com, listed Pittsburgh as having the second most stable housing market behind Buffalo. Louisville, Nashville and Raleigh rounded out the top five.

Analyzing housing prices from 1979 to the present, Zillow and Bloomberg used a five year rolling average to calculate changes in home prices to establish a risk of loss percentage.

Affordable housing hasn’t been an agenda-topper for state lawmakers this year faced with too many line items and not enough money. But a bipartisan group of senators are backing a plan that could boost residential housing stock by letting the real estate market do the heavy lifting.  

The state’s one percent tax on real estate transfers is being eyed as a way to pay for it.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is one of a group of more than 75 Mayors and county officials who’ve signed on to a nation-wide plan to end homelessness among those who’ve served in the military. First Lady Michelle Obama this week kicked off the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

“It really is a call to mayors and other elected officials to focus their attention on veterans who are homeless in our communities,” said Jane Vincent, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Philadelphia.

“Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” concludes Jeff Fraser, senior editor for the benchmarking agency PittsburghTODAY, which asked Pittsburghers to assess the condition of their homes.

“When people rate their own homes, they tend to rate them much higher than the city does,” Fraser said. But when we also asked people to rate the conditions of the houses and buildings in their neighborhood other than their own, they tend to be a much harsher critic of their neighbors’ homes and buildings.”

A Growing Need for Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities

Jan 15, 2014
ACTION-Housing Inc.

Many Pittsburgh neighborhoods are experiencing a resurgence in new development. As new homes and businesses take shape, affordability is crucial in some low-income areas, such as Uptown and Hazelwood.

Linda Metropulos is Director of Housing and Neighborhood Development at Action Housing, a non-profit that uses sustainable design to build affordable communities.

Pittsburgh Housing Market Continues Upward Trend

Sep 12, 2013

More homes sold in the Pittsburgh area last month than a year ago, and they were scooped up more quickly — at higher prices.

That’s according to the West Penn Multi-List which reports that in the 13-county region, 3,817 residential homes were sold last month, up 14.7 percent from August 2012. Those homes were on the market for 72 days compared to 82 days a year ago, and the average sales price rose 2.6 percent to nearly $178,000.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A pilot program in Allegheny County seeks to keep families in their homes by lowering their energy bills.

The Energy Efficiency Foreclosure Prevention Initiative (EEFPI) is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), ACTION-Housing, Inc. and four area utility companies.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a new rule regarding the enforcement of the Federal Fair Housing Act and instances of discriminatory impact.