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Two Out Of Three Low Income State Residents Have Trouble Finding Housing

A new analysis of census data indicates a shortage of homes for those living on a $20,000 income. The study, released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, found there are only 36 affordable and available units for every 100 low income people living in Pennsylvania.

Liz Hersh, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, says these numbers are troubling.

"There's only about a third the supply of the apartments that are needed in the market. So the market is in very short supply of apartments that are both available and affordable," Hersh said.

According to the census analysis, this shortage of lower income homes means seniors, people with disabilities, and low-wage working families end up living in potentially unsafe and overcrowded situations.

"If you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to be able to afford a decent place to live," said Hersh. "Seniors and people with disabilities should be able to live safely and with dignity. No child should be left homeless."

The new census data comes after Governor Tom Corbett's 2012-13 budget proposal, which eliminates Homelessness Prevention funding. Hersh says this budget cut won't reduce costs, but will instead add to them.

"Having a family live in a shelter becomes about ten times as expensive as preventing homelessness," Hersh said. "So it becomes a question of pay now or pay later, especially in an economy like this where you have people who are still out of work."

In addition, the governor's budget does not allocate funding for the construction or renovation of affordable rental homes. According to a 2009 Econsult Corporation study, the investment in multifamily renovation and production brings $2.28 into the local economy for every dollar spent.

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania is advocating for an appropriation to the state housing trust fund to grow the affordable housing market. While the fund was established last year, no money has yet to be allocated to it.