Affordable housing in Pennsylvania is becoming a serious issue 

March 29 – Statistics have come out of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Housing Committee that show the state is actually short about 98,000 housing units. 

That means we don’t have enough homes or apartments for the people in the state. 

PA Representative Rich Irvin, chair of the Housing Committee, said, “Just this last session, I took over as the Republican Chair of the Housing Committee, and it sort of opened up my eyes to the housing crisis that we’re dealing with in Pennsylvania right now. Whenever I first was elected, I always thought that family sustaining jobs was you get an individual into that family sustaining job and everything else will fall into place and unfortunately readily available housing and affordable housing, workforce housing is not there. Individuals are having to spend more and more of their paychecks on rent and mortgage costs and with the higher interest rates, it’s just becoming somewhat of a place where younger generations are like, I’m never even going to be able to afford to have a house so why should I even try? So I’m not worried about paying my student loans right now because I don’t really need to worry about my credit score because I’m never going to be able to afford to buy a house. That’s some of the statements that you’ve been hearing that’s coming out there. So I think it’s a tough sell, throwing money at housing, especially in our caucus, so we have to come up with ways in order to try to look at the housing crisis.” 

A package of bills was put together in the committee to try and address some of the needs. 

Irvin said, “It’s not all inclusive and we could probably pass every one of these bills and I still don’t know if it would fix the whole crisis because I think a lot of it is dependent upon what’s going on at the national level sometimes because this is not just a Pennsylvania issue. This is a nationwide issue.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM agreed, “What I’m afraid of is some of the bills and I can certainly understand why some of them are being suggested, but I’m afraid it’s band aids on the back end that could actually be causing more interference in people’s ability to make their own choices about how they live their life, than it really will get to fixing it. I’m specifically talking about some of the ideas for changing municipal zoning ordinances to allow mixed residential properties. Here’s my worry with that. There is a desire by some to get rid of suburbia. That the single family home neighborhoods with the yards and that space is what’s wrong with quote unquote this country or wrong with our ability to address things like climate change. So they’re more than happy to have policies that do that. I think you are actually going to hurt property ownership by doing that because you’re going to make people’s value in their single family home go down when you allow it. I know Senator Rothman has a bill where he wants to allow manufactured homes. You can also read that as mobile homes to be put into single family neighborhoods or my particular township, Greene Township, dealt with a problem last year where they wanted to put three, five story apartment buildings right in the middle of three suburban neighborhoods. Now luckily our local ordinances were changed so that won’t be allowed. But I’m afraid now we’re going to give carrots and sticks to municipalities to force them into those kinds of changes, all with the ideal idea that we’re going to have more affordable housing, but you’re really just going to hurt the ability for people to even want to own property in the future.” 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM wondered, “Why wouldn’t you just let the marketplace dictate this stuff at this point?”

“Exactly,” Irvin confirmed. “That’s where a lot of times our caucus is at. Anytime you try to put an overreach from the state on to the local government, which I honestly believe government should be at the most local level. That is a problem that I feel that big government shouldn’t be coming in and telling us what to do, and let the market sort of handle that. Some of the bills that we’re actually looking at deal with realty transfer tax or things of that nature, like trying to reduce the number of over regulations that the state and the local governments do have on building homes. I mean, right now, I think it’s right around 24% of the cost of building a new home is coming from government regulations, delays in actually getting the home built. So that’s something that we were trying to look at addressing. I do believe there’s a national push that they’re trying to take your urban dwellers out of the city and put them into more of your high rises in your suburban and rural areas, which I do not agree with at all. I have seen national news coverage on that and that’s something I think that’s more of a push coming from the federal level then more so than from the state level at this point in time.”

Jansen added, “Another thing we heard about is this idea of tiny home neighborhoods. I think it’s even a little more interesting when they say they want it to solve the homeless crisis. Once again, that’d be fine if people were making that choice, but if you’re hand them things, that usually doesn’t work out that well because people who don’t own things don’t really take pride in ownership and it just becomes a circular thing where we just actually devolve people’s ability and desire to maintain themselves.”

Ryan asked, “Isn’t it interesting, though, that you think Tucker Carlson said a year or so ago, it will be the liberal, far left double degreed control freaking female, the sad, lonely ladies who are pushing this, like the green initiative, or you could do better. Let’s have DEI for everything. It’s these double-degreed sad and lonely ones that are out in suburbia that could actually do their own neighborhood in by preaching and pointing their fingers. Fine, if that’s the way you want it, over by Wilson College, why don’t we put some mobile homes over there. It would be ironic, wouldn’t it?” 

Jansen said, “Of course Biden has this wonderful idea of giving everybody $400 towards their mortgage. He just said that in the State of the Union. He wants to do this. Per month. To hand to people. No. We don’t need more government handouts. We don’t need more government enabling and becoming a nanny state. We need to encourage people. Part of it’s allowing corporations to buy up single family homes at inflated prices. We know there’s a lot of issues that need to be addressed.” 

Ryan said, “Whatever we’re doing now doesn’t work. Your interest rates are up. You can’t afford your groceries. You’re on your credit cards like crazy. Do you want more of this? Because more of this is going to happen in this election if you don’t choose wisely. Ronald Reagan said years ago, are you better off today than you were four years ago? I don’t think so.”