Chester County Officials Implore Legislators to Invest in Affordable Housing

Mark Hostutler
From left: Shaun Bollig, Jennifer Lopez, Carolyn McKenna, and Sen. Tom Killion.

Staff from the Chester County Department of Community Development (DCD) and Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children joined the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania for its annual Home Matters Day in Harrisburg.

Close to 80 members of the Housing Alliance gathered to share their stories and ask 31 legislators to invest in affordable housing by passing SB30 (the State Housing Tax Credit) and SB31 (expanding the PHARE Act state house trust funding).

Chester County has five low-income housing tax credit applications currently pending with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. These developments would construct new affordable rental housing for low-income households, including seniors, families, veterans, and others who are unable to find affordable rental housing. These proposals have the potential to grow Chester County’s affordable housing inventory by 288 units.

“Pennsylvania is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis,” said Jennifer Lopez, Friends Association’s Executive Director. “A single-parent making minimum wage has to work more than 90 hours a week to afford a typical apartment. How can they do that and stay involved in her kids’ lives? Affordable housing not only fulfills a basic human need for shelter, but it also contributes to the well-being of individuals, parents, children, and our community.”

PHARE state housing trust funds continue to fill critical gaps for providing services to some of Chester County’s most vulnerable residents. With state housing trust funding, Chester County has improved shelter staff capacity at its five emergency shelters and piloted an innovative program to offer incentives for making timely placements from shelter into permanent housing. DCD also partners with three providers in different parts of Chester County to support individuals and families after placement into permanent housing.

“We continue to partner with three providers in different parts of Chester County to support individuals and families after placement into permanent housing,” said Shaun Bollig, Planning Supervisor at Chester County Department of Community Development. “This client-centered approach ensures that a housing stability case manager is available to assist in the coordination of services and promote positive housing outcomes for the long term.”

The affordability gap between the cost of a home and what people actually make is present in every community in the state, from the most rural to the most urban. For every 100 very extremely low-income households, there are only 42 affordable units, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“The State Housing Tax Credit would unleash dollars to help working families struggling to afford homes and to help businesses attract and keep the employees they need to prosper in Pennsylvania,” said Sen. Tom Killion, prime sponsor of SB30. “Stable housing means a stable workforce, and that leads to a stronger economy.”

“By providing an additional funding source through Sen. Killion’s proposed state housing tax credit, Chester County would be able to fund more affordable housing developments and take pressure off of the PHARE state housing trust initiatives,” said Bollig. “We would be able to see up close the impact of these the families that are burdened by the amount they pay for housing each month.”

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