Bob Damewood helped research and draft an Inclusive zoning (IZ) overlay zoning district that would require that new housing developments in one of Pittsburgh’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods (Lawrenceville) set aside 10% of their units as affordable at 50% AMI (rental) to 80% AMI (for-sale). The ordinance was introduced mid-February 2019. It is likely to be passed as it has both city council and mayoral support. It would be the first mandatory IZ ordinance in Pittsburgh.
Rachel Blake partnered with colleagues at the Self Determination Housing Project (SDHP) and the Housing Alliance to craft and disseminate a survey about issues, desires for connections and education to “housing connectors” across the state. Nearly 500 people across the state (primarily direct services, social service providers) provided some sort of response to the survey. We are in the process of writing up a report and determining next steps.
Mark Schwartz has been working with clients and other partners to educate key policy makers about the need to raise the cap on the funding that goes to the PHARE program from the Realty Transfer Tax (RTT). “PHARE was established by Act 105 of 2010 (the “PHARE Act”) to provide the mechanism by which certain allocated state or federal funds, as well as funds from other outside sources, would be used to assist with the creation, rehabilitation and support of affordable housing throughout the Commonwealth.” Currently only up to $25M of RTT revenue is allocated to PHARE. The demand for PHARE funds far exceeds the supply. This work is ongoing. More about PHARE (including source of quotation in this paragraph at: https://www.phfa.org/legislation/act105.aspx)
Rachel Blake wrote an article in Shelterforce magazine (spring/summer 2018), which followed up on comments she wrote for a coalition of partners that bridged the health and housing sectors. The goal of the article was to continue to raise awareness about the existence of medical certificates (they help people who are seriously ill avoid utility termination) and to highlight some ways that process for issuing medical certificates can be improved. This work took place in consultation with PULP. This work is ongoing. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission was expected to issue updated regulations concerning medical certificates in Spring 2019.
Bob Damewood worked to secure the creation of a Housing Trust Fund in Pittsburgh, which will provide $10M per year for housing-related activities. The work was remarkable for many reasons, including that the group was able to have success in a middle-market city and that the success happened in record time – just 18 months! Our client is deeply committed to following this project through – ensuring that low-income residents have a voice in how the funding is allocated. This work will continue in 2019.