A coalition of affordable housing advocates plans to gather signatures for a November ballot initiative that would create a affordable housing trust fund for Pittsburgh.
A $10 million annual affordable housing trust fund was recently recommended by a city task force convened to study how to best preserve and expand the city’s supply of affordable housing. The task force, co-chaired by city Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle and city Planning Director Ray Gastil, noted a shortage of about 17,000 affordable rental units in the city.
The fund could be used for new affordable housing, rental assistance or rental rehabilitation, and could create as many as 6,840 affordable units over the course of 10 years, the task force estimated. The fund would have a five-member governing board made up by members appointed from the mayor’s office, city council, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, nonprofit developers and a member who represents low-income Pittsburghers.
Revenue for the fund would come from a 1 percent realty transfer tax.
The coalition aims to gather 15,000 signatures with the goal of a ballot initiative for Pittsburgh voters to consider in November.
“We are excited to launch a grass-roots ballot initiative campaign to create and resource a housing opportunity fund that will stabilize our neighborhoods and ensure that long-time residents can stay in the neighborhoods that they have always called home,” said Jennifer Kennedy, campaign director for Pittsburgh United, a union-backed coalition of local organizations.
“The opportunity fund will be a critical tool to help realize the policy recommendations from the affordable housing task force’s report and subsequently close the affordability gap that currently threatens Pittsburgh from being the most livable city for all,” said Dan Wood, chief of staff for Mr. Lavelle, speaking at a Tuesday news conference.
The task force’s report noted there are more than 400 locations across the country with housing trust funds.
“The call for a trust fund is a major finding of the task force report,” a spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto said. “[The trust fund] would have a really wide city impact.”
Angel Gober, president of the Brightwood Civic Group, has struggled to get funding for property rehabilitation in her neighborhood of Marshall-Shadeland and is confident that this initiative will expedite the process of allocating funds.
“Clearly there’s an issue around housing in the city. I’m happy, now that the city is starting to think about different initiatives and alternatives to funding,” she said. “I’m really excited that the conversation has changed and that the city wants to figure out ways to make its resources more available.”
Mike Danielewski: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-4871 or @MDanielewski. Kate Giammarise: email@example.com or 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.
First Published June 21, 2016 9:46 AM