by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 16 November 2004) -- For state lawmakers, the 2004 session is wrapping up.
Advocacy groups are already thinking about 2005, and one coalition wants to make sure affordable housing is a top priority next year.
The Keystone State’s home ownership rate is 72 percent. Advocates say that’s good – in fact, it’s significantly higher than the national average. What’s bad, according to Liz Hersh with the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, is that lots of people are still priced out.
“People are really struggling," Hersh says. "Working people can’t afford places to live that are safe and decent in which their kids can get an education. We don’t have places for people to go when they graduate from college. We don’t have places to go for people when they retire. I mean, this is really a problem.”
Hersh’s group has four suggestions for state lawmakers.
First, encourage the construction of more multi-family homes. Pennsylvania’s fourth-to-worst nationally in multi-family home starts.
Second, generate maintenance and repair policies suitable for the state’s older housing stock.
Third, create tax credits for potential homeowners.
Fourth, protect and preserve existing affordable housing.
Hersh says working with local governments and developers will be key – since they’re the ones who actually approve housing plans and build the homes.