Wages Not Keeping Pace With Housing Costs In Allegheny County

May 22, 2015

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania has been working to expand the Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund statewide; the organization will continue that work following the release of a report that shows a person would have to make $15.12 an hour in wages to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate in Allegheny County.

The problem, according to Alliance Executive Director, Liz Hersh, is that many people don’t make that much money.

“Nurse’s aides, daycare teachers, janitors, housekeepers, a lot of the service industry workers who are the backbone of the city really can’t afford a place to live,” said Hersh.

While other organizations are fighting to have the minimum raise wage raised, the Housing Alliance is trying to ensure those who can’t afford housing get assistance.

“There’s a gap between what you can pay and what the price of a unit is, so the idea of the State Housing Trust Fund and the Low-income Housing Tax Credit and any of these programs is to close that gap,” said Hersh.

The gap would be closed through tax credits, rental assistance or development subsidies.

The Trust Fund was established in 2010 in Marcellus areas in the state. It uses impact fees to subsidize affordable housing, and the push is to expand it statewide. The additional funds would come from the realty transfer tax, which is paid when a house is bought. Revenue from that is increasing as Pittburgh’s and other areas’ real estate markets rebound.

“The down side is that unless we take some action, a lot of people, long-time residents, communities of color, seniors, people with disabilities, those people are going to be priced out of the market,” said Hersh.

The report on how much one would need to make to afford a rental in Pittsburgh comes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization and from the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.