Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

When Transit Costs Are Included, Study Finds 'Affordable' Housing Often Isn't Many Residential Areas Have No or Inadequate Transportation Service

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

When Transit Costs Are Included, Study Finds 'Affordable' Housing Often Isn't Many Residential Areas Have No or Inadequate Transportation Service

Article excerpt

Once the last P16 bus departs the Hulton Arbors complex in eastern Penn Hills at 7:13 a.m., Autumn Conley has few options if she wants to get anywhere.

"I'm barely making it to and from school. It's very hard," said Ms. Conley, who is studying medical billing and coding.

"I've seen people walk with their young kids on the road, which is very dangerous," she said. There's no sidewalk, and a narrow shoulder on Hulton Road, where cars speed past. "I can't speak for everyone down here, how they make it work, but it is really hard, really inconvenient," she said.

A recent national study that examined affordable housing from the perspective of also including potential transportation costs ranked the Pittsburgh metropolitan area poorly in terms of the true affordability of much of its affordable housing.

The study found 82 percent of Pittsburgh's affordable housing households spending more than 15 percent of their income on transportation. It ranked Pittsburgh behind Cincinnati, Cleveland and Detroit metro areas, said study author Shima Hamidi, a University of Texas at Arlington assistant professor in the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs.

"People in these areas have to drive more and spend more on costs associated with driving," said Ms. Hamidi, the director of the Institute of Urban Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington.

At the Allegheny County Housing Authority's Groveton Village complex, residents were not served by a bus for several years.

Residents either had to walk about a mile to Coraopolis or pay for a jitney, said resident Darnell Jones.

"People had to pay $20, $25 to jitneys to get food," he said.

"If you're not going to give these communities any public transportation access, you are looking for them to fail. How are they going to pay their rent? How are they going to buy food for their kids? At least get a shuttle bus for them," Mr. Jones said.

After four years with no bus service, following an active campaign, service was re-established for the area, and residents can now take the 20 Kennedy bus.

Frank Aggazio, executive director of the Allegheny County Housing Authority, which manages about 3,000 affordable housing units, said his agency is aware of how critical transportation can be. …

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