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Pennsylvania Chapter of APA Policy Statement on Affordable Housing/Housing Affordability

Issue

Many regions of the Commonwealth are experiencing either rapid growth or severe economic decline. Housing prices have risen dramatically for both home buyers and renters. Increasingly, affordable housing means old, dilapidated or abandoned stock in inner city or remote rural areas.

As the Department of Community and Economic Development has said in its Governor’s Center for Local Government Services 2001 publication entitled Reducing Land Use Barriers to Affordable Housing, The term “affordable housing” is no longer just a euphemism for low-income, subsidized projects or large mobile home parks.” Today, more and more Pennsylvanians simply cannot afford to buy housing of any kind.

According to Choices in Pennsylvania, published by The Reinvestment Fund, Pennsylvania has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. We are one of the slowest growing states but create new housing on new land at one of the fastest rates in the nation, yet we are the third slowest growing state. “Our most affordable housing stock is located in communities with the highest property tax burdens, but the worst performing schools . . . we are home to more elderly than most states in the nation and an increasing number have some type of disability.”

We are near the top in the nation in building single-family detached homes, which spread into green fields at a furious pace. The distance between home and work continues to grow even as the economic and environmental costs burgeon. Those with small incomes find their access to education limited, which in turn limits their opportunities for higher incomes. At the same time we struggle to cast aside the old racial divisions, we now segregate ourselves by wealth.

Pennsylvania has no vision or longterm plan to deal with these issues.

Vision

A Commonwealth in which a full range of housing opportunities is available for the lowest to the highest incomes, allowing people to live near their work or family.

Supported Actions
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA encourages state and Federal efforts to provide a consistent and adequate funding source for housing, including rental assistance and affordable home ownership programs, which is guided and targeted by a purposeful plan to provide more housing at more affordable prices throughout the state.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA encourages all state departments to adopt regulatory policies and grant assistance programs that promote and provide incentives for moderately priced housing production and redevelopment in areas that can support such housing.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports programs that help to preserve and revitalize our cities and boroughs.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA encourages local governments to refine their land development and zoning regulations to avoid impediments to the widest possible range of housing.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports intermunicipal zoning regulations, wherever appropriate, based upon comprehensive planning strategies that balance affordable housing with other development goals such as transportation planning, economic development and preserving open space, to create regional solutions providing housing affordable for greater numbers of people.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA encourages local governments (including counties) to advocate the use of innovative techniques such as mixed-use developments, adaptive re-use, housing designed for the elderly and residential conversions to increase housing production in the low to moderate price ranges.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports expanding the State Planning Board to give it the power and staff to create a statewide housing strategy guiding government decisions across the full range of infrastructure decisions.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports Employer Assisted Programs, which support lower income workers in higher income areas.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA encourages more government programs to assist the elderly with health and mobility problems.
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of APA supports the development of model building codes encouraging housing affordability.