Investment for affordable housing support strategies focus of Davis, House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing

PITTSBURGH, May 11 – The need for affording housing is a need only exacerbated by the pandemic and Allegheny County Delegation Chairman Austin Davis today hosted a hearing to discuss how the PA Rescue Plan would invest federal funding to bring relief to homeowners and renters.

“Wages have not kept up with the rise in housing costs. With the oldest housing stock in the country and a minimum wage that remains stagnant, Pennsylvanians need us to take action in Harrisburg. Today, we learned how the PA Rescue Plan funding would be helpful and the legislative actions we can take to empower local municipalities so that state and local governments and developers can work together to solve this problem.”

Testifiers included Larry Swanson, executive director of Action Housing; and Robert Damewood, staff attorney for Regional Housing Legal Services.

Swanson advocated for affordable housing assistance as lender forbearance programs come to an end this summer.

Damewood shared that over 299,000 Pennsylvania families cannot afford rent and the state desperately needs expansion of affordable, safe and stable housing. He called on the legislature to apply rights in the Manufactured Homes Community Rights Act to renters across the board.

“Housing is a human right, period, and the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the fact that too many Pennsylvanians can’t afford to stay in their homes, especially in our communities of color,” said House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “I applaud Rep. Austin Davis and the PA House Policy Committee for hosting today’s hearing to highlight our PA Rescue Plan’s commitment to invest in keeping people safe in their homes.”

State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, said, “We have an opportunity to use federal funding to help keep people in their homes and to help people find homes. We need programs that benefit homeowners and renters, and I am hopeful these investments are a start in the right direction. Making sure Pennsylvanians have access to affordable housing is in the best interest of the state from a financial and humanitarian perspective and should be a bipartisan goal.”

The PA Rescue Plan aims to ensure federal American Rescue Plan funding is invested for immediate impact and long-term success. Additional information about the plan is available at www.pahouse.com/parescueplan.

*UPDATE: A correction has been made to the number of Pennsylvania families that cannot afford rent report by Robert Damewood. The original distribution included 350,000 but has been updated to reflect a correction over 299,000 renter households who are behind on their rent and at-risk of eviction.