Pittsburgh Needs Affordable Housing Our City's Prosperity Depends on Building Mixed-Income Neighborhoods

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 21, 2015 | Go to article overview

Pittsburgh Needs Affordable Housing Our City's Prosperity Depends on Building Mixed-Income Neighborhoods


Many of Pittsburgh's iconic neighborhoods are growing again as the result of the expanding health care, education and technology sectors of our economy. As these communities rediscover prosperity and experience new housing construction, it is essential that people of all income levels be able to remain in and move to these neighborhoods of opportunity. By integrating affordable apartments and houses with market-rate units, we can help ensure a more widely shared, and therefore more sustainable, prosperity for Pittsburgh.

The members of the Building Inclusive Communities Work Group believe that this must be done and can be done. We are an informal coalition of organizations and individuals who love Pittsburgh and value its history and diversity. We seek to ensure the resurgence of Pittsburgh's economy and housing markets includes all residents - especially those with low incomes and communities of color.

In February, Pittsburgh City Council enacted a resolution, introduced by Councilman Danielle Lavelle, to create an affordable- housing task force that will assess current and projected housing affordability, make recommendations to promote mixed-income development in neighborhoods across the city and ensure a mix of housing options for people of all income levels and walks of life. The task force is now beginning its important work.

We urge the task force to recommend policies that build inclusive communities with affordable multifamily housing developments. The percentage of affordable units could vary by whether the city is investing public resources in a particular development, such as tax abatements, cash subsidies, low-cost land or loans with favorable terms.

To help developers offset the cost of providing affordable units, inclusive housing policies also could provide incentives, such as more flexible parking requirements and higher permitted dwelling densities and heights. More than 500 cities and counties throughout the country have enacted such inclusive-housing policies, and they have produced thousands of affordable housing units outside of high poverty areas.

We believe this must be done for three reasons.

First, there is a shortage of 21,000 homes that Pittsburgh residents with extremely low incomes can afford. …

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