Fetterman Introduces Bill to Ensure Affordable Housing in Forgotten Communities

FILE – (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON, DC – Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman today introduced legislation to ensure long-term housing affordability. The Keep Affordable Housing in Forgotten Communities Act would encourage plans for long-term housing affordability as part of the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods grant program, ensuring that revitalizing efforts benefit longtime community members.

“Hardworking people should be able to find housing in the communities where they grew up. This is especially true in forgotten communities – places where opportunity dried up as factories and plants closed, but where we are making investments to bring life back,” said Senator Fetterman. “We must invest in the whole community, not just the parts that big businesses and luxury developers can profit from. This bill will allow us to be proactive in how we capitalize on infrastructure investments in forgotten communities, so we can ensure the benefits are passed on to middle- and lower-income residents.”

As communities do the critical work to revitalize towns and cities across the country, the people who stayed and stuck out the hard times are often priced out. The same residents who came up with the revitalizing projects — from converting closed factories into startup incubators, to renovating abandoned rail lines into greenspace — are then pushed out of existing affordable housing by rising rents and private equity buy-ups. These critical revitalizing efforts need to happen in these communities, but they must also include housing opportunities for the people who have long called these places home. Infrastructure policy needs to incorporate housing considerations from day one and the plans should prioritize models that keep housing affordable for existing residents.

Community land trusts (CLTs) buy land and preserve the housing as affordable forever. Homeowners can stay and profit from their investment, and the home will stay affordable for the next working-class owner. And we can do it for relatively cheap – much cheaper than building new units or trying to undo displacement after costs have already risen. It’s a proven model that has been active for years.

The Keep Affordable Housing in Forgotten Communities Act would help grant recipients looking to redevelop community-severing infrastructure for new uses to consider the impact on housing. They would be able to evaluate the impact of the project on workforce housing in the neighborhood, and use funds to plan for long-term affordability, create or preserve long-term affordable housing units in the neighborhood, and support the creation or expansion of CLTs.

The Keep Affordable Housing in Forgotten Communities Act is endorsed by Grounded Solutions Network, NeighborWorks, the National Housing Law Project, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Housing Trust, the Center for Community Progress, and American Planning Association PA. It is also endorsed by many of Pennsylvania’s CLTs – the Women’s Community Revitalization Project (Philadelphia), City of Bridges Community Land Trust (Pittsburgh), Mosaic Community Land Trust (Pottstown), Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust, State College Community Land Trust, and Centre County Community Land Trust.

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