In June, Pittsburgh City Council voted to give Lawrenceville permanent inclusion zoning, meaning significant new developments are needed to include a certain percentage of affordable housing in the neighborhood. The move has been hailed by housing activists, as Lawrenceville is widely regarded as one of Pittsburgh’s most expensive and increasingly gentrified neighborhoods.
Now Pittsburgh City Councilor Deb Gross (D-Highland Park) is hoping to extend this inclusionary zoning to two other Pittsburgh neighborhoods: Bloomfield and Polish Hill.
Gross introduced legislation on July 13 that, if passed, would create a temporary overlay zoning district that would give Bloomfield and Polish Hill inclusion zoning for 18 months.
This overlay neighborhood would require that any new construction of buildings containing 20 or more housing units, 10% of on-site units, be affordable for people earning 80% of the median income in the area. If a larger new construction project wants to build its affordable units off-site, they must represent 12% of the units under construction.
This measure reflects Lawrenceville’s inclusionary zoning requirements. Gross says the Bloomfield and Polish Hill real estate markets are “overheated,” with rents rising and selling prices for some homes tripling.
“Both neighborhoods want to make sure that any new construction includes units that residents can actually afford,” says Gross. “This is what inclusionary zoning does, it requires new buildings to have units at lower prices. With a [temporary overlay district], neighborhoods have the opportunity to try out these policies, get lots of feedback from the community, and then decide whether or not it helps them achieve their goals. ”
Christina Howell of Bloomfield Development Corporation supports the proposal and states that while developers are required to include affordable units for people earning 80% AMI, Bloomfield really hopes to attract developers who would make units affordable at 60% d ‘FRIEND. She says it will provide people with housing vouchers the opportunity to live in affordable housing and only pay rent equal to 28% of their income.
“We have developments on hold in Bloomfield and Polish Hill that could change the face of these neighborhoods for decades,” Howell said. “Rents have doubled or tripled in recent years.
Howell says Bloomfield has seen more fins, which has led to dramatic increases in rents and house prices, and thinks inclusive zoning may be key to preserving some accessibility. She says a Bloomfield rental that cost $ 885 per month was recently returned and is now priced at $ 1,700 per month.
Howell acknowledges that zoning for inclusion likely won’t necessarily lead to dozens of new affordable units overnight, but hopes BDC’s support for density appeases any developers who are wary of affordability requirements.
“If they build more, they also get more units at the market rate, they get both,” Howell explains. “We are density advocates. Bloomfield is a historically dense neighborhood. ”
She says she hasn’t heard of any negative side effects from Lawrenceville, which has seen 40 new affordable units over the two years of its inclusive zoning pilot.
Lizzie Anderson of the Polish Hill Civic Association also supports the inclusionary zoning proposal and notes that between 2015 and 2018, average selling prices for homes in Polish Hill increased by 200%.
“We want working class people to live in the neighborhood and stay in this neighborhood,” says Anderson.
She adds that extending inclusionary zoning to Polish Hill and Bloomfield could help ensure that developers building just outside of Lawrenceville will be required to include a certain percentage of affordable units in their projects. Polish Hill and Bloomfield border Lawrenceville.
Anderson acknowledges that the inclusionary zoning might deter some developers from the neighborhood, but says it’s important for people to realize Polish Hill wants affordability to be part of the community.
“There will be some developers who don’t want to build, but at the end of the day, we don’t want to have a relationship with them if they don’t see affordability as important,” says Anderson.