Housing | BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |

Housing

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Fight over Penn Plaza highlights city’s inability to plan neighborhood growth equitably

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2018 at 5:31 PM

Former Penn Plaza building - CP PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • CP photo by Aaron Warnick
  • Former Penn Plaza building
In 2015, hundreds of evictions were announced at the Penn Plaza apartment complex in East Liberty. It created a flash point in Pittsburgh’s affordable-housing discussion. Since then, the arguments have only grown more aggressive, especially concerning development in East Liberty.

The battle continued over what will be developed on the former Penn Plaza site and has involved grocery giants like Whole Foods, a public park and ongoing chaos at Pittsburgh Planning Commission meetings. The developers, LG Realty, have recently proposed a retail/office space for the site, while housing-activists want the site to include affordable housing. There is no working relationship between housing-activists and LG.

And, there hasn’t been any in-depth analysis to determine what type of development would be best for East Liberty. The city needs more affordable housing, but does it need more units at that location? Would retail and office space add vibrancy to the Penn Avenue corridor or would it create too much traffic?

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Advocates say Amazon HQ2 would not fit with Pittsburgh’s vision of equitable development

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 3:38 PM

Protesters gathered outside the p4 conference on April 26 - CP PHOTO BYT RYAN DETO
  • CP photo byt Ryan Deto
  • Protesters gathered outside the p4 conference on April 26
April 26 is the second day of the annual p4 conference at the David L. Lawrence convention center in Downtown Pittsburgh. The conference brings together regional and national leaders to discuss strategies on how to achieve equitable development in cities like Pittsburgh. Attendees at this year’s conference include Julian Castro, a Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, and Nikki Fortunato Bas, the director of the nationwide economic-justice organization Partnership for Working Families.

But as leaders discussed and shared ideas on how best to build inclusive and equitable cities, about 30 housing and transit advocates gathered outside the conference earlier today to claim that some of the city's leaders, like Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto are acting hypocritically. Laura Wiens, head of transit advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said Peduto’s failure to release Pittsburgh’s bid for Amazon second headquarters, also called HQ2, flies in the face of the values held up by p4. She also called on Peduto to make Pittsburgh's bid to Amazon public.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Pittsburgh residents and advocates want city leaders to make sure Amazon would bring equitable development

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 1:48 PM

Equitable-development advocates at a press conference in Downtown PIttsburgh - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Equitable-development advocates at a press conference in Downtown PIttsburgh
The tech giant Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, and residents there know all too well the combative relationship Amazon has had with local officials. Geekwire, a tech-news website based in Seattle, set up shop in Pittsburgh for several weeks to report on Pittsburgh’s emerging tech scene. In a January story discussing Amazon’s potential in Pittsburgh with Mayor Bill Peduto, Geekwire noted that “Until recently, the company and the city of Seattle had largely stopped communicating, making it much more difficult to work together to address the Seattle region’s massive traffic problems, housing affordability crisis, and growing socioeconomic disparity.”

Earlier today, a group of about 15 Pittsburgh residents and housing and transit advocates held a press conference at the City-County Building Downtown. They called on city officials to take steps to ensure the Seattle dynamic doesn't play out in Pittsburgh, if the city were to land Amazon’s second headquarters.

A sign at the press conference read out five goals advocates wanted to see advanced: Accountability and transparency, quality local jobs, affordable housing, equitable transit, and community investment.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Penn Plaza tenant group calls on city officials to reject proposed East Liberty development

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 10:54 AM

Penn Plaza apartment complex before it was torn down - CP PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • CP photo by Aaron Warnick
  • Penn Plaza apartment complex before it was torn down
In summer of 2015, when property-development company LG Realty announced evictions of East Liberty’s Penn Plaza apartment complex, hundreds of residents were blindsided. After months-long negotiations, LG was allowed to move forward redeveloping the Penn Plaza property, in exchange for move-out costs for the tenants and money for Pittsburgh's affordable-housing fund.

However, the vast majority of Penn Plaza residents couldn’t find similar rents in East Liberty and were eventually forced to leave the neighborhood. Penn Plaza was torn down in 2017.

On March 14, the Pittsburgh city-planning department accepted LG's latest application for their redevelopment plan for the Penn Plaza site, which proposes the construction of office and retail spaces, as well as a parking lot. The Pittsburgh Planning Commission still has to vote on the proposal.

But the activist group that formed of former Penn Plaza tenants says the new plan doesn’t address issues that led to Penn Plaza tenants being forced from East Liberty in the first place. Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition (PPSA) is calling on Pittsburgh’s Planning Commission to reject LG’s redevelopment plan since it doesn't include housing.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How re-allocating a Pittsburgh parking tax can combat the city's affordable-housing shortage

Posted By on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 5:39 PM

The Penn Mathilda affordable-housing complex in Bloomfield is an example of a project that could benefit from parking-tax diversion. - PHOTO COURTESY ACTION HOUSING
  • Photo courtesy Action Housing
  • The Penn Mathilda affordable-housing complex in Bloomfield is an example of a project that could benefit from parking-tax diversion.
On Feb. 8, Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority voted to divert up to $6.8 million in parking-tax revenue to help fund an affordable-housing project in the Lower Hill District, near PPG Paints Arena.

The millions will be raised over 19 years by the expected revenue of a 423-space parking garage going up near PPG Paints Arena. The City’s Edge mixed-income development will be the beneficiary of the diversion, and the apartment complex will be home to 32 market-rate units, and 74 subsidized units located next to the parking garage.

On Feb. 8, URA Chair Kevin Acklin said the vote fits with the overall philosophy of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 21, 2017

How Pittsburgh finally funded its affordable-housing trust fund

Posted By on Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 3:05 PM

Corey O'Connor discussing the affordable-housing fund at a December Pittsburgh City Council meeting - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Corey O'Connor discussing the affordable-housing fund at a December Pittsburgh City Council meeting
In early 2015, Pittsburgh City Council knew it needed to investigate and address the city’s affordable- housing problems. Back then, there was a reported shortage of more than 18,000 subsidized affordable units in the city, and since then that figure has only marginally decreased. In January 2015, City Councilor Daniel Lavelle (D-Hill District) introduced legislation to create an Affordable Housing Task Force, and the task force was created in February 2015.

Then that summer, more than 200 residents of the Penn Plaza apartment complex in East Liberty were given eviction notices, and Pittsburgh’s affordable-housing crisis took center stage. Much has happened since then, including continuing disputes around the Penn Plaza site and more legislative activity at city council.

This month, on Dec. 19, city council passed a bill that would fund its $10-million-a-year affordable-housing trust fund called the Housing Opportunity fund. The bill passed by a vote of 7-2 with councilors Natalia Rudiak (D-Carrick) and Darlene Harris (D-North Side) voting against the bill. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has indicated support for the bill.

The fund will be filled by raising the city’s realty-transfer tax up .5 percent for 2018 and 2019, and then up to 1 percent in 2020. This means closing costs on home purchases in the city will go up slightly; those costs are typically split between the buyer and seller. The $10 million Housing Opportunity Fund will be used to provide gap funds on new affordable-housing projects, as well as help low-income home-buyers with home purchases and rehab costs.


Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 25, 2017

Penn Plaza residents and advocates pressure Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to enact broad affordable-housing legislation

Posted By on Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Affordable-housing advocates protesting in Riverview Park on Aug. 24 - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Affordable-housing advocates protesting in Riverview Park on Aug. 24
When longtime Penn Plaza residents Myrtle Stern and Maybel Duffy were forced to vacate their East Liberty homes earlier this year, their options for replacement housing were limited. They need elevator access, as they are in their 70s and have trouble navigating stairs. “I have arthritis and a metal knee,” said Duffy at an Aug. 24 protest in Riverview Park. “I can’t do steps.”

The best option for them was Auburn Towers apartments, in Verona, Pa., which is more than an hour away from Penn Plaza via public transit. And Stern says this move has lowered her quality of life.

“When I lived in East Liberty, I used to walk a block or two to visit with my daughter," said Stern in a press release. “When I got to feeling bad, I used to babysit my grandkids, and then I would feel better. But I had to move out to Verona, where there are so few buses that I feel trapped out here, especially on the weekends when there are no buses at all. I want to be able to return to my home in East Liberty.”

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, August 11, 2017

Advocates call for Lexington Technology Park redevelopment to include affordable housing

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 12:26 PM

Laura Wiens, of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, speaking at an August URA meeting - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Laura Wiens, of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, speaking at an August URA meeting
When it comes to building affordable housing, there is no better place to do so than near public transportation. Since low-income people are less likely to own cars than higher-income individuals, good access to public transit is necessary for affordable-housing dwellers to travel to work, visit family and just get around. According to the nonprofit Center for Housing Policy, people in the Pittsburgh Metro area spend 34 percent of their income on transportation, the second highest figure of large U.S. metro areas, just behind Tampa.

And at a Aug. 10 meeting, this thinking led a group of affordable-housing advocates to request that Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority include affordable-housing measures in its pitch to redevelop the Lexington Technology Park, in North Point Breeze.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pittsburgh region's housing market responding well to job growth

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 4:05 PM

December 2016 groundbreaking of new loft-style condos in Bloomfield - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • December 2016 groundbreaking of new loft-style condos in Bloomfield
From 2010-2015 the Pittsburgh region’s economy started to take off. Not in the same way as booming cities like Denver and San Jose, but for a Rust Belt city with decades of decline in its wake, not too shabby. According to data compiled by Apartment List, the region had a positive change in total employment of about 30,000 jobs from 2010-2015. Allegheny County led the way during this span with 18,000 jobs.

And when regions start to see some positive job growth, new housing construction tends to follow. But when new housing doesn’t keep up, problems can arise. In cities like San Jose, this is a problem because the California Bay Area city isn’t building enough houses to keep up with demand, and housing prices are skyrocketing (San Jose is seeing housing prices rise faster than any other U.S. city).

But according to data from Apartment List, the Pittsburgh region is on a good track. From 2010-2015, the Pittsburgh metro area saw 20,000 new units of housing construction. This gives the region a jobs-housing ratio of 1.5.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Is dialog surrounding Pittsburgh’s affordable-housing trust fund stuck in one gear?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 3:57 PM

Pittsburgh City Councilors meet at an July 18 post-agenda meeting on affordable housing. - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Pittsburgh City Councilors meet at an July 18 post-agenda meeting on affordable housing.
When Pittsburgh City Council convened a post-agenda meeting on July 18, councilors in attendance were given a sales pitch on why the best way to fill the city’s affordable-housing trust fund is to take out a $100 million bond and pay it back by raising Pittsburgh’s real-estate transfer tax by 1 percent. Councilor Daniel Lavelle (D-Hill District), who hosted the meeting, invited eight guests to speak, and all agreed raising the real-estate transfer tax is the way to go.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Listings

CP Newsletters

Sign up to get the freshest content sent right to your inbox.

No recent CP TV

Digital Issues

This Week...

Read Past Issues

© 2018 Pittsburgh City Paper

Website powered by Foundation

National Advertising by VMG Advertising