In this month’s column, Pittsburgh’s District 6 Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle shares his message for Northsiders.
Photo of City Council Chamber by Ashlee Green
It’s no secret that housing in the City of Pittsburgh has become less affordable in the past decade. Rents have increased at a faster pace than the average resident’s income, income-restricted housing has seen a reduction in recent years, and new housing developments tend to fall outside of the average Pittsburgher’s price range. The ensuing housing landscape raises serious issues of equity, as folks increasingly find themselves pushed out of neighborhoods with increasing housing costs.
In response to this changing landscape, I introduced legislation in 2015 to create the Affordable Housing Task Force, charged with the drafting of a set of policy recommendations to address the issue of affordable housing in Pittsburgh. This in turn prompted the creation of the Housing Opportunity Fund (HOF) in 2017, as I was able to secure a minimal annual allocation of $10 million for at least 12 years. Dollars from the fund go towards the support of housing programs overseen by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). These include the Rental Gap Financing Program, the Housing Stabilization Program, the Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program, the Homeowner Assistance Program, and the For-Sale Development Program.
2019 was the first year of implementation for the HOF. So far, a total of 838 affordable rental units have been created, with affordability defined as households at or below 50% of the area median income. In addition, 12 affordable for-sale homes were developed, with deed restrictions keeping the properties affordable for folks in the 80% area median income range.
I am excited to announce that the City continues its commitment towards the HOF with Council’s recent approval of the 2020 HOF Allocation Plan. Commitments to the programs of the HOF are broken down as follows: Rental Gap Financing Program, $4,500,000 = 150 households served; Housing Stabilization Program, $1,015,000 = 338 households served; Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program, $500,000 = 83 households served; Homeowner Assistance Program, $2,485,000 = 83 households served; For-Sale Development Program, $500,000 = 10 households served.
For more information on the funds and how to access them, visit www.ura.org/pages/HOF, or feel free to contact Program Assistant Doren Hilmer at 412-255-6574.
R. Daniel Lavelle – Councilman, District 6