Affordable Housing Task Force Final Recommendations

The AHTF has just released their final recommendation to the city. The full form of the recommendations can be found here.

Below is an summary of the document with some conclusions of our own.

 

Summary of the Recommendations of the Pittsburgh Affordable Housing Task Force June 1, 2016

The Affordable Housing Task Force released its recommendations to Pittsburgh City Council today. You can read the full recommendations on the Department of City Planning website. Here are the highlights:

I. Policy Tool: P ittsburgh Housing Trust Fund

Summary of Recommendation: Create a special fund for affordable housing and neighborhood stabilization.

Positives:

  • ●  Minimum goal of $10 million per year
  • ●  Focus on long­term affordability ­ at least half of all units produced would have to remain affordable for 99years or the life of the building
  • ●  “Added weight” given to neighborhood­based non­profit applicants
  • ●  The Trust Fund could be used for both development and preservation/rehab
  • ●  Strong accessibility and visitability requirements
  • ●  Meetings would be open to the public with an opportunity for public comment
  • ●  An annual audit and report of Trust Fund activities would be made publicly available

Areas for Improvement:

  • ●  Only h alf of the funds would be targeted to families and individuals who have the greatest need (those whoearn less than 30% of area median income)
  • ●  No requirement that newly developed affordable rentals be in areas with good access to public transit
  • ●  No requirement to put people before profit – Most trust funds limit applications to non­profits, but the AHTFrecommendations would allow for­profit developers to apply as long as they can get a letter of support froma neighborhood organization
  • ●  Overlapping membership between the Governing Board and the Advisory Board could compromise theability of the Advisory Board to provide oversightII. Policy Tool: I ncreasing Utilization of 4% Low Income Housing Tax CreditSummary of Recommendation: Use the Housing Trust Fund to fill the gap in 4% LIHTC deals and get developers interested in doing those deals. Most new affordable rental housing is financed using 9% LIHTCs. 9% LIHTCs are designed to cover about 70% of development cost, but they are a limited resource. 4% LIHTCs are a virtually unlimited resource but only cover about 30% of the cost of development.

    III. Policy Tool: P reservation of Housing

    Summary of Recommendation – Preserving Deed­Restricted Affordable Housing: Create a preservation database, enact a preservation ordinance and encourage HACP and the URA to help with preservation efforts (among other recommendations).

    Positives:

    • ●  Would create an early warning system to allow the public to respond to property conditions and expiringaffordability restrictions before it’s too late
    • ●  Might result in the adoption of a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase law that would give tenants a purchaseoption in the event of a proposed sale of their property or termination of affordability restrictions (likeWashington, D.C.)
    • ●  Encourages HACP to implement a one­for­one replacement policy when they redevelop their housing
    • ●  Encourages the URA to require longer affordability limits on URA funded projects

Areas for Improvement:
● Doesn’t recommend any tools to force owners of subsidized housing to improve living conditions rather than

continuing to allow the housing to deteriorate while siphoning off profits

Summary of Recommendation – Preserving “Naturally­Occurring” Affordable Housing: Provide tax relief to long­time homeowners and enact tenant protections (among other recommendations).

Positives:

  • ●  Would protect long­time homeowners from rapid increases in property assessments by implementing along­time owner occupant tax relief program.
  • ●  Would explore Just Cause eviction protections in housing developments that receive public assistance
  • ●  Would explore relocation assistance for tenants who are displaced from housing developments that laterapply for public assistanceAreas for Improvement:

● There’s no reason to limit Just Cause protections to housing that receives public funds

IV. Policy Tool: I nclusionary Housing

Summary of Recommendation: Establish a Pilot Inclusionary Housing Requirement Zone in certain high­growth neighborhoods, require housing developers who receive City subsidies to provide some affordable housing, and give housing developers height and density bonuses in return for building affordable housing.

Positives:

  • ●  Would impose a (5%) mandatory affordable housing requirement for the first time in the City of Pittsburgh
  • ●  Would require all housing developers who receive a direct public subsidy to provide some affordablehousing (suggests studying a 15% minimum)
  • ●  The income target for rental housing would be 50% of AMI (this would make IZ units available to tenantswith a Section 8 voucher)

Areas for Improvement:

  • ●  The requirements would not go into effect until 2017 at the earliest, which means we will miss out on manylarge developments that are currently in the planning stage
  • ●  Developers could potentially be allowed to buy their way out of compliance by paying a “fee in lieu”
  • ●  The 5% mandatory requirement in high­growth neighborhoods is very low ­ a higher set­aside should berequired along with cost offsets as necessary to make it feasible.
  • ●  So­called “upzoning” and granting of special zoning district status should be treated as direct publicsubsidies
  • ●  The 30­year affordability period is unnecessarily short (other municipalities have been requiring 99­yearaffordability periods without any problem)
  • ●  There are no requirements for affordable housing in Transit Oriented Developments