PUMP Supports Proposed Inclusionary Zoning Policy to Promote Affordable Housing in Lawrenceville

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PUMP formally supports legislation proposed by City Councilwoman Deb Gross that would require many private developments in Lawrenceville to include affordable housing units. This legislation would be a pilot program aimed at addressing the rapid development in Lawrenceville in recent years that has pushed many low- and moderate-income residents out of the neighborhood.

Today, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the legislation. We were so encouraged by all of the community members who came out to the meeting to support the proposed legislation. PUMP CEO Brian Magee shared our support for this legislation, which would advance PUMP’s goal for a vibrant region with diverse, inclusive, and affordable neighborhoods.

After hearing public testimony, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the legislation. If passed by City Council, this will be a great additional “tool in the toolbox” to promote affordable housing in Lawrenceville.

    

Read PUMP’s full statement and letter to the Planning Commission and City Council below.

April 22, 2019

Dear Members of the Pittsburgh Planning Commission and City Council:

I’m writing this letter on behalf of PUMP. I’m pleased to share PUMP’s support for the Inclusionary Housing Interim Planning Overly District (IPOD) in Lawrenceville introduced by Councilwoman Gross.

PUMP’s mission is to engage, educate, and mobilize all young people to create change in our community to make Pittsburgh the best place for everyone to live, work, and play. Each year, we serve nearly 30,000 people, primarily under the age of 40. Our Advocacy + Public Policy Agenda, developed through a year-long community process, is our collective vision for equity in the Pittsburgh region. Among other goals, our agenda includes support for diverse, inclusive, affordable neighborhoods and communities and access to affordable, high quality education and workforce development for all children and adults. We have worked to advance these goals as a member of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Task Force for the City of Pittsburgh.

With a shortage of affordable housing of over 20,000 units at the lowest incomes, we are currently in an affordable housing crisis in the City of Pittsburgh. Immediate action is needed to ensure that as Pittsburgh grows, the benefits of revitalization are shared with everyone. While inclusionary zoning won’t solve all the housing challenges of Lawrenceville or the City of Pittsburgh, it’s an increasingly prevalent tool used by nearly 900 municipalities across the country.

The 3 neighborhoods of Lawrenceville are an ideal location to implement this policy, as they are several of the neighborhoods in the City to have seen major new residential construction and population growth in the recent past. Many of the new units constructed in these neighborhoods are built for 1-2 people, not families, and rent and home prices have increased significantly, all of which has had a massive impact on the ability for low-income families to remain in Lawrenceville. David Breingan, Executive Director of Lawrenceville United, shared with NEXTPittsburgh that “Lawrenceville lost more than half of its Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) units in the neighborhood, which represents a loss of 120 low-income families.”

Research shows that legislation such as this, thoughtfully drafted and tailored to the target community, can make a positive impact by providing an important “tool in the toolbox” to build inclusive communities and grow affordable housing opportunities in low-poverty neighborhoods without discouraging needed development or raising housing prices. Indeed, policies that are supportive of mixed income housing without being overly restrictive are necessary in order for housing developers to be able to financially support and justify investments in their developments.

In addition, any incentives that developers may claim/utilize when providing housing using Inclusionary Zoning practices must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis with an analysis of the impact on the community and should not be blanket approved for all such developments.  We believe this proposed legislation strikes the right balance and accounts for the unique needs of the Lawrenceville neighborhoods.

The Department of City Planning and Councilwoman Gross have taken a thoughtful approach to the design of Pittsburgh’s first mandatory inclusionary housing policy, and we commend them for introducing this important legislation.  We also want to acknowledge and thank the City of Pittsburgh Affordable Housing Task Force, the Inclusionary Housing and Incentive Zoning Exploratory Committee, Lawrenceville United, and Lawrenceville Corporation for their leadership and efforts.  This is the type of purposeful and community driven development policy that we should all get behind.

PUMP supports this comprehensive Inclusionary Zoning legislation and affirms our commitment to equity, affordable housing, and access to opportunity for low-income people. We recommend the Planning Commission and City Council vote in favor of this legislation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Brian Magee
CEO | PUMP

Cc:          Arthur Pang, PUMP Board President

Josh Sayles, PUMP Advocacy Committee Chair