Housing prices skyrocket in Allegheny County, forcing people of color to relocate

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Pittsburgh community group said that for people of color, the city isn’t as affordable as it is for white people.

From 2010 to 2020, more than 10,000 people of color left the city limits for various reasons, including housing costs. Many have gone to nearby suburbs, where prices are falling.

According to realtor.com, the current median price of a home in Pittsburgh is $230,000. For some nearby communities like Penn Hills, the price is around $80,000 lower. Neighborhood groups help make the city more affordable for everyone.

“To see many of our longtime residents and families having to leave is unsettling,” said Christina Howell, executive director of the Bloomfield Development Corporation.

Bloomfield is one of the latest neighborhoods to experience an investment boom. According to the Bloomfield Development Corporation, property values ​​have increased approximately 180% over the past five years.

“These people were here before high-income people moved in, and they’re one of the reasons developers are choosing this neighborhood,” Howell said.

It’s a similar story to what happened in neighborhoods like East Liberty and Lawrenceville, and it’s had a disproportionate impact on people of color.

“In some areas, that’s where housing prices are skyrocketing and some struggling neighborhoods are still working to get that investment,” said John Boyle, research analyst for the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group.

The Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group reports that from 2010 to 2020, the percentage of people who owned their homes dropped. For black households, only 30% owned a home. For white households, it was 56%.

This is partly due to salary and credit score discrepancies.

“This is all pre-pandemic. So obviously we’re seeing things go up even more, which is of concern to us,” Boyle said.

According to Coldwell-Banker real estate agent Chris Ellson, housing prices have increased by around 9% in the area from 2012 to 2017. They have increased by around 65% from 2017 to 2022.

Suburbs like Penn Hills, Monroeville, McKees Rocks and Stowe Township became home to displaced people. In neighborhoods like Bloomfield and Polish Hill, Inclusion Zones are a tool to help create more affordable housing.

“People should be able to stay in the neighborhood they helped build,” Howell said.

The law provides for 10% affordable housing when a project has 20 units or more. He is applauded by heads of state like 21st District Representative Sara Innamorato. She represents many neighborhoods where there is investment. According to her, alternative solutions must be considered to ensure that everyone can afford housing.

“It allows people to build capital, build long-term ties to their community, and have a safe, stable and affordable place to call home,” she said.

His office is pushing legislation this budget season to help longtime homeowners on fixed incomes. If they should have a problem that could lead to an accumulation of code violations, his office wants financial assistance available to them.

According to neighborhood groups, inclusive zoning won’t solve everything, but it’s a start. They hope to get more help from land banks and affordable housing developers.

Innamorato said Harrisburg leaders could try to review codes to allow a Philadelphia policy to be used in other cities. Philadelphia has a policy that allows long-term homeowners to have tax freezes to pay for their homes.

According to Ellson, there is no timeline yet on when the housing market might cool down.

“As interest rates continue to rise, this is going to force buyers out of the market, which will start to even out the market and take some weight off the seller,” he said.

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