Lehigh Valley Affordable Housing

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) was given the task at getting to the heart of affordable housing and a job/ housing balance study. As the project developed it was clear that housing conditions and needs in the region should be examined holistically. The result will be a Regional Housing Plan that incorporates a study of housing affordability, a study of housing sales in the region 2008-2012 and a jobs/ housing balance study.

In June 2014 LVPC hosted 14 public meetings and completed a public survey of 1,636 people to garner resident input into the Regional Housing Plan.

Overarching Housing Priorities
·         Improve housing choice for people who live and work in the Lehigh Valley
·         Continue diversifying the housing stock in the Lehigh Valley
·         Educate municipalities on the impacts of retaining their traditional suburban development  
          regulations
·         Enhance targeted rehabilitation/ revitalization efforts in challenged and transitioning                     neighborhood
·         Enable the development community to diversify the Valley’ housing supply at the lowest               and highest-ends of the price scale.
 
The findings of the input and the research work done by LVPC is available on their website at:
http://www.lvpc.org/housing-profile.html

Regional Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, on behalf of Lehigh County, Northampton County, the City of Allentown, City of Bethlehem and City of Easton, competitively bid for consulting services for a firm to perform a Regional Analysis of Impediments (AI) to Fair Housing Choice.  The chosen consultant firm was WFN Consulting.  The cities and counties are entitlement jurisdictions under the  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  As a condition of a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant and HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, the entities are required to certify to HUD that they will affirmatively further fair housing. These certifications are included in their annual Consolidated Plan (CP) submission to HUD. One way of affirmatively furthering fair housing is to prepare a Regional Analysis of Impediments (AI) to Fair Housing Choice and to maintain records on actions taken to overcome impediments to fair housing choice.

Equal Housing OpportunityAn initial round of public meetings was held in the first week of April, along with a month-long survey process to get input from community members regarding housing discrimination in the Lehigh Valley.  WFN Consulting is currently analyzing the community comments and survey results and will host additional public meetings and a month-long public comment period to present their Assessment of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice to the community in mid-July.  Stay tuned for specific dates and locations.  Please contact hedinger@lehighvalley.org with any questions or concerns.

Fair Housing Proclamation
Fair Housing Proclamation signed by the County of Lehigh, the County of Northampton,
the City of Allentown, the City of Bethlehem, and the City of Easton.

Affordable Housing Opportunities in the Lehigh Valley

An important issue confronting the Lehigh Valley is creating affordable housing opportunities for households at or below the area median income. The availability of a wide range of housing types and price points makes for competitive and vibrant communities. Access to suitable labor pools influences corporate location decisions and quality, affordable housing is a critical factor in retaining employees. The increasing cost of transportation, health care and child care along with housing and utilities expenditures makes owning or renting a home out of the reach for many individuals and families leading to coupled families and multigenerational households. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) is working on three studies under the sustainability program: Housing Trends in the Lehigh Valley (2008-2012), Affordable Housing Assessment of the Lehigh Valley (Update) and Jobs/Housing Balance. Each report will build upon knowledge of the current housing situation in the Lehigh Valley. An overview of each report is as follows:

Housing Trends in the Lehigh Valley (2008-2012)

In 2009, the LVPC prepared “Housing in the Lehigh Valley, 2008” to examine the current housing sales market including housing affordability by municipality for different housing types (e.g. single family detached). Housing sales data for 2008 was gathered from the Lehigh and Northampton county tax assessment offices to create a one year snapshot of the housing market. Under the sustainability grant, this report will be updated by the LVPC to review and analyze housing sales data at the municipal and school district level over a 5 year period, evaluating pricing and location of single family attached and detached, multifamily, condo and mobile home units.  LVPC is currently working on this assessment of housing sales data and anticipates a draft to be available this summer.

Affordable Housing Assessment of the Lehigh Valley (Update)

In 2007, “An Affordable Housing Assessment of the Lehigh Valley” report was issued. The strategic housing plan within the affordable housing assessment identified a series of recommendations regarding land use policy, tax policy, housing trust fund policy, CDBG program amendments and non-profit organizations capacity building. While progress has been made on many of these fronts, there is much more to do. Under the sustainability grant, the LVPC will update the affordable housing assessment to include 2010 Census data combined with housing data through 2012. This update will also include: a housing profile analysis, housing affordability analysis and a future demand analysis among other pertinent information. The housing profile analysis will provide information on the inventory of market rate (and market rate affordable) ownership and rental units as well as subsidized ownership and rental units (housing authority and others). The housing affordability analysis will provide information on the demand for residential housing based on household size, age of householder and income level as well as an analysis of demographic trends and projections as it relates to income level and household size. The future demand analysis will highlight the demographic and housing changes that may occur in the region and how those changes will affect the housing market in the Lehigh Valley. The update will assess progress made regarding the recommendations made in the original 2007 report and create an updated strategic housing plan.

Jobs/Housing Balance

This report will analyze whether there is a balance between housing options and employment. The relationship between jobs and housing defines the commuting pattern for the Valley. Employment clusters in the Lehigh Valley will be evaluated for the types of jobs with respect to salary and educational attainment needed and proximity to housing stock an individual can afford that is employed at various income levels. Associated with housing affordability is the issue of the location of housing relative to the location of jobs. Especially for low and very low income households with limited or no access to automobiles, are there sufficient obtainable jobs located within reasonable transportation access from the households? A “balanced” pattern would involve short travel times and availability of various modes options. Within the Lehigh Valley the majority of affordable housing is located within Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton while much of the job creation is in the suburban communities. Under the sustainability grant, the LVPC will create a jobs/housing balance study to evaluate these issues.  The committee has been meeting regularly and will have drafts of the collected data available this summer, which will be posted on this page.
EnvisionLV 3-24-2014 - LV Planning Commission
EnvisionLV 3-24-2014 - Community Conversation Highlights
Virtual Meeting May 13, 2013
PBS 39 Tempo in Depth - Affordable Housing
 
LVPC Regional Planning Dinner + Community Awards
10/23/2014 5:30:00 PM
Lehigh University, Iacocca Hall
Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities
12/5/2014 8:00:00 AM
Hotel Bethlehem
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