Monday, March 27, 2006

Authoritah pt. 1

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Saw this article in the P-G:

Residents of Oak Hill took their fight for more homes to the Pittsburgh Housing Authority's board meeting yesterday and came away empty and angry.

"We were treated very poorly," said Oak Hill Residents Council President Eloise McDonald. Board members "walked in, they never spoke to us."

The board listened to comments from some of the 18 Oak Hill residents in attendance, but took no action on their request for approval to build 200 homes on Robinson Court. That parcel sits atop the Hill District, between their homes and the University of Pittsburgh, which has made a competing offer to buy it and build athletic fields.
Local Public Policy walks into this blog... you would've thought it would have seen it.

So, here's the dilemma: sell the property to a developer and build houses or sell the property to the University for more money and build soccerfields. It's not as simple as money; the University will obviously be able to give more money up front to the Housing Authority. There are significant equity issues involved here: is it more or less ethically responsible to build affordable housing on public land, or to build soccerfields? The previous administration was pretty gun-ho about moving residents out of the isolation of public housing and into integrated communities.

Still, assuming that the Housing Authority sold the land to Beacon/Corcoran Jennison, there would be costs to the City, the URA, PWSA, HACP, and the State, in various loans, grants, credits, and donations, but benefits (in form of increased taxes) over a longer term. A conservative assumption would generate $3.5M in taxes in about 10 years. Assuming that the Housing Authority sold the land to the University, there would be an up front benefit with no up front costs ($3.5M right now), but the long run benefits and costs are kinda hidden, including the impact of keeping the low income residents effectively isolated in West Oakland.

So, this is really Public Policy Test #1 for the O'Connor administration and his Housing Authoritah.

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