– Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike), majority chairwoman of the House Urban Affairs Committee, hosted a public hearing to receive testimony on Northeastern Pennsylvania, and other areas of the Commonwealth, which continue to experience a limited market for attainable and affordable housing.
“With the demand for housing growing stronger and stronger, the preservation and creation of affordable and attainable housing needs to be a focus,” said Brown. “Every person deserves the opportunity to live in a safe and affordable home and I am continuing to receive feedback, especially from seniors on this need. I will continue working hard to sponsor legislation and open the dialogue on ways to combat the housing crisis in my region and all other regions in our Commonwealth, from a multi-faceted approach.”
Wednesday’s hearing was aimed at taking a deeper look at the Commonwealth’s housing crisis through the testimony of industry and housing experts.
“We’ve faced a global pandemic, along with a changing work environment, both of which have caused an increase in mobility trends,” said William Clauss, chair of the legislative committee for the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors. “These trends have put unique stressors on housing markets in different areas, including many rural Pennsylvania communities, and overall purchasing power gets lower each time interest rates rise.”
Testifiers shared the difficulties both home buyers and sellers are experiencing from juggling stagnant incomes and increasing inflation with the costs and challenges of finding land for housing, development obstacles, the ongoing issue of blighted properties and turning them over quickly, and the rapid residential migration into Pennsylvania.
“The modern need for attainable housing needs to be discussed with the public, especially from a senior and workforce angle,” Brown said. “It’s critical we try to meet the needs of the community responsibly.”
“Whether rural or urban or ex-urban or suburban, the programs you are supporting -- both for new housing and for urban redevelopment -- are vitally important to increasing the total number of available units in all our regions,” said Tom Campbell, director of housing initiatives for Pocono Mountain United Way.
Other aspects of discussion included the rate of the growing senior population in the Commonwealth with the needs for housing, accompanied by long waitlist periods for senior living.
“We had over 80 applications for eight units and are using a lottery system to choose tenants,” said Ed Kaminski, director of quality living for Landis Communities. “We stopped taking applications, but we are carrying an open interest list and over 150 are on this list for future turnover of units. We continue to get calls for affordable units at this building daily.”
Policy suggested by the testifiers included preservation/creation of urban and rural housing, additional rental assistance programs, increased low-income housing tax credits for construction, as well as more affordable property taxes and business development to assist with those taxes.
Brown added, “The Basic Education Funding Commission that I supported strongly as well as Chairman Mike Sturla, assisted in improving the fairness of the state school funding formula and is building year after year. We also dedicated $750 million to basic education this past budget, which is distributed with the new formula. Over the last 10 years, local Pocono school districts have improved in their state funding dramatically; however, the cost of educating a child locally is well above the state average. Also, business creation in the Pocono region should be higher to alleviate the tax burden on residents while creating quality employment.”
Other testifiers in attendance included: Andrew Haines, Pennsylvania Developers Council/Gatesburg Road Development chair; Melissa Grover, director of government affairs, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; Aaron Zappia, senior government relations manager, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania; Chris Barrett, president/CEO, Pocono Mountain Visitor Bureau; Linda Kauffman, executive director, Housing Authority of Monroe County; Linda Kauffman, executive director, Housing Authority of Monroe County; Claude Hicks, senior vice president of real estate development, HDC Mid-Atlantic; and Malynda Hivner, vice president of development, Presbyterian Senior Living.
To view the hearing visit RepBrown.com
Representative Rosemary Brown
189th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Katie Park
RepBrown.com | Facebook.com/RepRosemaryBrown