The High Cost of ‘Affordable’ Housing

17 Jul

There is an affordable housing crisis across the country. The demand for affordable housing far exceeds the supply. In the nation’s poorest big city, the Philadelphia Housing Authority spends nearly $400,000 for each new “affordable” rental unit. With 42,886 people on its wait list, PHA would need $17,154,400,000 — more than four times the annual operating budget of the City of Philadelphia — to provide housing for those currently on its wait list. And by the way, PHA’s wait list is closed:

PHA closed its Public Housing Program wait lists on April 15, 2013. The wait list will reopen when PHA determines that the average wait time for housing has reached an acceptable level. The public will be notified through advertisement on this website.

Frontline and NPR recently investigated how billions are spent to house the poor but fewer housing units are being built.

In December 2016, PHA welcomed residents to 57 new apartments that cost the housing authority a whopping $21.9 million. The project was partly financed with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Before the paint was barely dry the contractor, Domus Inc., filed a lawsuit alleging PHA “repeatedly changed the terms of the contract, refused to cooperate with the contractor and delayed payment.”

Domus v. PHA

If Domus wins its case, the cost for one unit of LIHTC-funded “affordable” housing could be more than $400,000. To put PHA’s construction costs in context, the median home value in Philadelphia is $142,000. The city’s median income is $41,233; 44 percent of households have an annual income of less than $35,000.

Domus and PHA will face off before Common Pleas Court Judge Patricia McInerney on July 18, 2017. Stay tuned.

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