Pittsburgh set to disburse $10M for affordable housing


The Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a plan for distributing $10 million in 2019 from an affordable housing fund.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority, which administers the fund, has recommended that the money be divided into six programs this year, including rental assistance, subsidies to help with a down payment and closing costs on new home purchases and cash to help low-income residents deal with such things as deed restrictions.

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This marks the second straight year that the city has distributed $10 million from the fund.

“The money is starting to get out the door,” said Joanna Deming of the Perry Hilltop/Fineview Citizen’s Council and a member of the Housing Opportunity Fund advisory board. “The good news is neighbors are starting to see the funding.”

The City Council in 2016 created the fund to address the city’s affordable housing problem. The ordinance requires the city to set aside $10 million each year for the fund. In 2017, council approved a controversial increase in the city’s realty transfer tax to help offset the $10 million.

The tax on property sales increased from 4% to 4.5% in 2018 and will jump to 5% in January 2020.

Officials estimate that 17,000 city residents need housing at below competitive market rates.

Half of the housing fund each year must pay for programs that help households earning 30% or below the area median income level. Twenty-five percent must go to those at 50% or below that level and 25% to those at 80% or below the level. For a family of four, 30% of area median income level is $22,800, 50% equals $38,000 and 80% is $60,800.

The fund’s advisory board recommended the following allocations: $3.75 million to build new affordable rental units and preserve existing units, $800,000 for rent subsidies, $500,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance, $2.2 million to rehabilitate owner-occupied homes, $1.25 million to purchase and rehabilitate vacant structures in the city for sale as homes, $500,000 for help with deed restrictions and finding affordable housing where it is not available and $1 million for administrative costs.

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