City and Regional Planning

Posted May 20, 2020

New Report from Weitzman Team Highlights Housing Affordability Issue

Housing affordability is a growing issue for Pennsylvanians, and renters, low-income households and minorities are disproportionately burdened by housing costs, according to a study shared online today by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

The Pennsylvania Comprehensive Housing Study, as it’s called, was co-authored by Vincent Reina, assistant professor of city and regional planning and faculty director of the Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP), HIP Director Claudia AIken, and city and regional planning students Jane Christen and Jason Schunkewitz, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA).

The study closely examines how the lack of affordable housing is a crucial issue for Pennsylvanians. Due to decreased availability of low-cost rental units, rent now consumes nearly 30% of the median household’s income.

The report also finds a critical shortage of subsidized rental housing, which could become exacerbated if there is a decline in federal funding and local block grant programs. Tax reform and the expiration of affordability restrictions on privately owned, subsidized properties could add to this shortage, as well.

Other key findings include:

  • Pennsylvania’s population is growing but slowly, and growth is projected to slow even more as the population ages.
  • 69% of Pennsylvanians own their home, but the percentage of renters is increasing in both urban and rural areas.
  • With more than 17% of Pennsylvania’s population age 65 or older, the state will experience a critical need for accessible homes.
  • Pennsylvania has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, and as the housing stock ages the number of uninhabitable, vacant units is rising.
  • Newly constructed housing units tend to be large, single-family homes, even though the share of large households is shrinking and the share of renters is growing statewide.

Also included in the report is a county-by-county breakdown of statistics and insights pertaining to housing.

Insights from this study will be used by PHFA and partner organizations to guide and prioritize investments in housing and community developments across Pennsylvania.

Access the full study on the PHFA website.

Learn more about the Housing Initiative at Penn, which is a PennPraxis initiative, on the PennPraxis website.