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Pittsburgh council ups URA budget for affordable housing |

Pittsburgh council ups URA budget for affordable housing

| Wednesday, December 12, 2018 5:30 p.m

Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday tweaked Mayor Bill Peduto’s proposed 2019 capital budget to give the Urban Redevelopment Authority an additional $2.5 million for economic development and low-income housing projects.

Local activists accused the administration of cutting the housing budget and urged members to approve the added funds. They said development across the city has made rents and the cost of purchasing a home unaffordable for 20,000 residents.

“Please, I ask that you do not cut the 2019 budget for housing,” Crystal Jennings, 34, of Elliott said during a council meeting. “Housing is a human right.”

An administration official argued the city is spending more than ever before on housing for residents in lower income brackets.

“Any claim that the budget reflects a cut in affordable housing dollars is just factually inaccurate,” said Dan Gilman, Peduto’s chief of staff.

Council for several weeks has approved amendments to Peduto’s proposed $571 million operating and $132 million capital budgets in preparation for a final budget vote on Tuesday.

The issue centered on a $1.1 million URA line item for economic development and housing.

Last year Pittsburgh gave the URA $5.3 million, but Gilman said that was because the city received more than expected in federal housing funds. The URA received $2.2 million in 2016 and $3 million in 2017.

Gilman argued that the URA funding cut was offset by $3.5 million going to Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh projects in Larimer and Bedford Dwellings in the Hill District. He noted that City Council last year approved $10 million annually for a newly created Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Council with Peduto’s blessing unanimously upped the URA contribution by $2.5 million, according to Councilman Ricky Burgess of North Point Breeze, who chairs council’s Finance Committee.

“It wasn’t what we wanted, but it’s better than nothing,” Jennings said after the meeting.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter @bobbauder.

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