PHILADELPHIA – January 16, 2020 – State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) unveiled a bold and aggressive plan to address the state’s affordable housing crisis, alongside members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus, more than 50 housing advocates, and concerned citizens today at the People’s Emergency Center in Philadelphia.
Sen. Hughes’ New Deal for Housing is a multi-year policy initiative aimed at transforming housing opportunities and conditions for struggling individuals and families across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The comprehensive plan would specifically focus on addressing housing issues for domestic violence survivors, homeless veterans, people living in toxic housing, victims of housing discrimination, individuals and families facing foreclosure, and low-income people who would benefit from expanded affordable housing opportunities.
“Many of our people are struggling because affordable housing is out of reach,” Sen. Hughes said. “We can change that reality through strategically expanding resources for proven programs that are making a difference, while also creating new initiatives that will help increase homeownership and stabilize affordable rental opportunities. I believe the New Deal for Housing is a foundation for the necessary change we need in Pennsylvania, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to get this done.”
Currently, for every 100 low-income renter households in the commonwealth, there are only 66 affordable rental homes available. For every 100 very low-income renter households, there are only 38 affordable units available. The New Deal for Housing would address the affordable housing crisis by:
- Creating the Survival Accessible Fair and Empowering (SAFE) Housing Trust Fund
- Opening Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funding to housing for veterans, domestic violence survivors and affordable housing projects
- Focusing on addressing toxic housing through a lead remediation superfund
- Creating Step Up PA, which expands homeownership for low income communities
- Establishing a PA Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program at $50 million to create additional affordable housing units
- Increasing the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) funding to provide additional support and flexibility to local housing organizations
- Creating a PA Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to address housing discrimination
The New Deal for Housing is a part of Sen. Hughes New Deal for a New Pennsylvania proposal, which looks to tackle the key issues that affect people across Pennsylvania. Sen. Hughes launched the New Deal for a New Pennsylvania in January 2019 with a series of policy hearings, followed by issue-based roundtable conversations, a statewide poverty tour, and many other interactions with those with a stake in addressing the housing crisis.
Among the events that informed the senator’s comprehensive plan to address housing issues was a call to action on poverty and economic security last April in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights icon had been working on addressing economic justice issues at the time of his death, which included affordable housing, discrimination and creating a wage system that allowed workers to live with dignity. On the day after what would have been Dr. King’s birthday, Senator Hughes said this fight must continue until his dream is realized.
“Unfortunately, we are still dealing with the same issues we faced when Dr. King was alive, however it is our responsibility and duty to continue on in the quest for justice,” Sen. Hughes said. “Today was another step down that path, on which we hope to build significant momentum with this policy initiative.”
Sen. Hughes was joined by Senators Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia), Katie Muth (D-Bucks/Montgomery) and Tim Kearney (D-Delaware/Chester), as well as representatives from numerous housing organizations across the city and state during the announcement. Special thanks to the People’s Emergency Center for hosting the policy press conference.