Pittsburgh housing fund board recommends program funding levels for 2018 | TribLIVE.com
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Bob Bauder
Workers in June 2017 demolished the remaining portion of East Liberty’s Penn Plaza Apartments that included apartments affordable to low-income residents.

A board overseeing Pittsburgh’s $10 million affordable housing fund on Thursday recommended that the money be divided into five programs this year, including homeless rental assistance, subsidies to help with a down payment and closing costs on new home purchases and fixing up vacant structures for resale.

The recommendations are subject to approval of Pittsburgh City Council and the Urban Redevelopment Authority board of directors, according to Jessica Smith Perry, director the Housing Opportunity Fund.

“Today the advisory board voted to recommend a plan, which is going to be presented to the URA board of directors on Thursday,” she said.

City Council in 2016 created the fund to address the city’s affordable housing problem. The ordinance requires the city to set aside $10 million each year for the fund. In December, council approved a controversial increase in the city’s realty transfer tax to help offset the $10 million.

The tax on property sales increased from 4 percent to 4.5 percent in January and will jump to 5 percent in January 2020.

Officials estimate that 17,000 city residents need housing at below competitive market rates.

Half of the housing fund each year must pay for programs that help households earning 30 percent or blow the area median income level. Twenty-five percent must go to those at 50 percent or below the AMI and 25 percent to those at 80 percent or below the AMI. For a family of four, 30 percent of AMI is $22,800, 50 percent equals $38,000 and 80 percent is $60,800.

The fund’s advisory board recommended the following allocations in five program categories:

  • $750,000 for homeless rental assistance.
  • $3.875 million to build new affordable rental units and preserve existing units.
  • $2.375 million to rehabilitate owner-occupied homes.
  • $750,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • $1.25 million to purchase and rehabilitate vacant structures in the city for sale as homes.

The board also recommended allocating $1 million for administrative costs.

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

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