Boston’s Policy On Affordable Housing Inspires Pittsburgh Task Force

The ultra-chic Residences at Mandarin Oriental in Boston’s Back Bay — a development with its own concierge and marble foyers, as well as rents that range from $4,700 to $17,000 a month — has been the province of the rich and powerful since opening in 2008.

But not exclusively.

Thanks to a 15-year-old city policy, teachers, police officers and other modest wage earners live next door to the wealthy at the Mandarin and other luxurious residential developments in Boston.

Because of the city’s inclusionary development policy, the Mandarin houses 10 affordable apartments — comparable in size and quality to the others — with rents ranging from $1,365 to $2,340 a month. The lucky recipients were chosen by lottery.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/02/22/Boston-s-policies-on-affordable-housing-inspires-Pittsburgh-leaders/stories/201502220077

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Changing Skyline: Subsidized Housing Deal May Benefit Developers More

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You could probably fit every unit of affordable housing being built in Philadelphia today inside one of the fancy glass skyscrapers going up in University City, and still have a couple of floors left over. That’s not because the new towers are so immense, but because the city produces so little subsidized housing for the poor and working class.

It wasn’t always that way. From the 1950s through the Clinton years, the federal government financed thousands of units of affordable housing. Though the results weren’t always well-designed, the programs did at least ensure the poor had places to live. But in the last decade, federal money dried up and cities were left to their own devices. It’s no accident that wage stagnation has become a hot issue as low-cost housing has become harder to find.

So, as with many urban improvements these days, cities have begun to look to the private sector to pick up the slack. The strategy is called “inclusionary housing,” and it involves trading zoning bonuses for apartments.

Developers get to put up taller, denser towers. Cities get a bunch of units in the new buildings that can be rented at below-market rates. Low-wage workers get fabulous apartments with skyline views.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/living/20141017_Changing_Skyline__Subsidized_housing_deal_may_benefit_developers_more.html#TCCsm4dMWl0uHb5b.99

North Philadelphia Meeting Addresses Gentrification

, a in , Pennsylvania

, a in , Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PEOPLE FROM all over Philadelphia came together Saturday to tell their stories about gentrification at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.

Organizers had issued fliers calling for an “emergency town hall” to confront a “crisis facing black Philadelphia: the demise of our neighborhoods.”

In gentrification, some neighborhoods are targeted for revitalization – but the new development leads to huge rent or property-tax increases that often force longtime residents out.

Sister Empress Phile, one of the organizers, said the group will host more town halls and ask for more public meetings, including congressional hearings.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140303_North_Philadelphia_meeting_addresses_gentrification.html#AU1SM36tmtUWDA0U.99

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Pittsburgh’s Larimer Revival Concerns Residents

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plans to revamp Pittsburgh’s Larimer section promise the creation of a new kind of neighborhood, where low-income residents are no longer clustered in housing projects or crumbling apartments, where subsidized housing units are scattered among market-rate ones.

But some are worried that the blueprints for the $100 million housing development would push residents in two places slated for demolition — East Liberty Gardens and a Pittsburgh Housing Authority-owned project — farther from transit lines and business districts.

“[The housing authority] is talking about moving me somewhere else,” said Robert Morton, who lives in one of 27 units in the Auburn/Hamilton-Larimer complex, which is owned by the housing authority. Mr. Morton, 64, uses a wheelchair.  “I can’t just uproot and go somewhere else.”

The city is currently preparing an application for a highly competitive $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with hopes of building some 350 units of mixed-income housing in the struggling neighborhood, to support jobs, parks and businesses similar to those in neighboring East Liberty.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburghs-larimer-revival-concerns-residents-697299/#ixzz2aRwXiz1o

Conshohocken Retains Its Sense Of Community

Location of Conshohocken in Montgomery County

Location of Conshohocken in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forty-nine years ago, Conshohocken leaders began crafting a comprehensive plan to transform the grimy old mill town into a modern, livable municipality, albeit a small one.

At just over one square mile, Conshohocken is shoehorned into a bend of the Schuylkill River, but is within earshot of I-476 and the Schuylkill Expressway, two of the region’s major arteries.

It took several decades, but between the vision of past leaders and the impact of that pair of highways, Conshohocken has become one of the region’s hottest neighborhoods, with sleek condo towers, destination restaurants and corporate headquarters along the waterfront, and a locally owned, family-friendly strip of restaurants, bars, and stores along Fayette Street.

Over the last decade, Conshohocken’s population has grown younger, wealthier and whiter, according to U.S. Census data.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/neighbors/main_line/20130429_Conshohocken_retains_its_sense_of_community.html

Changing Skyline: Cool Affordable Housing For Young Teachers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s easy to imagine the sprawling 19th-century brick mill on South Kensington’s Howard Street as just another high-end apartment complex for twentysomething professionals, the newest outpost on Philadelphia’s ever-advancing frontier of gentrification.

Situated a few blocks north of Fishtown‘s hipster bars and BYOB food shrines, Oxford Mills preserves the kind of authentic architectural details that make young, and not-so-young, renters swoon: high ceilings, huge windows, thick wooden beams.  The amenities hail straight from the wired generation’s handbook.  Plans call for an office incubator that rents desk space by the day and a public cafe that spills onto a sliver park furnished with outdoor tables and a fire pit.  You know, for those cool, late summer nights when you want to linger with friends.

But Oxford Mills, which will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday, ventures down an uncharted path.  It is being built by a private company, D3 Real Estate, which intends to market the units as affordable housing to teachers, especially novices working in programs like Teach for America, and others who fall into the growing category known as “the working poor.”

Newly minted professionals with college degrees are not generally seen as the target demographic for low-income housing, a term that still brings to mind no-frills residential complexes built for the chronically poor, elderly, or disabled.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130415_Changing_Skyline__South_Kensington_housing_development_for_low-wage_workers_is_a_socially_driven_project.html