Job Losses, Foreclosures Drive Demand for Low-Income Public Housing

By Parrish, Tory N | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

Job Losses, Foreclosures Drive Demand for Low-Income Public Housing


Parrish, Tory N, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The number of people on Allegheny County Housing Authority waiting lists for low-income public housing jumped 40 percent in the past year, from about 6,000 to 8,378, said Frank Aggazio, executive director of the housing authority.

"There would be more, but we've closed some of the (waiting list) sites because there are so many on the list that it would take several years to assist them," he said.

Housing officials say job losses and foreclosures are driving up demand, although family breakups and homelessness also are factors.

Some developments have closed the waiting list only to those seeking one- and two-bedroom units, such as Pleasant Ridge in Stowe.

That's where David Monroe Jr. has lived for the past five years with his wife, Crystal, and 7-year-old daughter, Ajanae, in a three- bedroom unit, for which they pay $236 a month. They consider themselves lucky to be in their townhouse in the usually peaceful neighborhood where their daughter is safe.

"She can actually go outside and play," said David Monroe, 39, a full-time security guard. Crystal Monroe, 32, is medically disabled and cannot work.

The county housing authority tells applicants that the wait for housing could be long, said Beverly Moore, assistant executive director.

Aggazio said some of the closed waiting lists are for Negley Gardens in Tarentum, Ohioview Towers in Stowe, West View Tower in West View, Dumplin Hall in Wilkinsburg and Sharps Terrace in Sharpsburg.

The county housing authority owns 3,041 housing units at about 40 sites for low-income families and elderly or disabled residents outside of Pittsburgh and McKeesport, both of which have their own housing authority.

The county, Pittsburgh and McKeesport housing authorities also have closed their waiting lists for the federally funded Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly called Section 8, for which demand historically has far exceeded supply. Section 8 awards recipients housing subsidy vouchers they can use anywhere that accepts them.

When the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh's Section 8 waiting list last opened for two weeks in spring 2010, it received 9,000 applications, spokesman Chuck Rohrer said. About 3,350 people are on the Section 8 waiting list in Pittsburgh, he said.

"There is just not enough affordable housing in the city right now," he said.

What is changing is demand for public housing outside of urban areas, officials say.

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Job Losses, Foreclosures Drive Demand for Low-Income Public Housing
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