Monday, June 09, 2008

Public Housing & Garfield

The Post-Gazette has an article about the rebuilding of the Garfield Public Housing in today's edition. Here are the nuts and bolts:

When the reconstruction effort was announced in April 2006, it was billed as a $60 million project involving 265 homes that would meld seamlessly into the rest of the neighborhood. The local public investment in the 90-unit first phase, to include 20 market-rate apartments, was put at $10 million.

Not included then: the cost of preparing the site and building roads and sewers. Not anticipated: a market downturn that reduced the value of federal tax credits backing the project.

Now the local public investment in the first phase is expected to be $17.4 million, and the authority may make another $3 million loan to KBK...

Housing Authority Executive Director A. Fulton Meachem Jr. said Friday that he knew a year ago that he had yet to identify $4.1 million needed for roads and sewers. He was holding off on committing his agency's money while he sought state funds...

The gap was filled when [Former HACP Chairman Pat] Ford got a $2 million commitment from the Water Authority and the Housing Authority put in $2.1 million.
And so on.

Dawdling over the Pat Ford scandal once again, Rich Lord doesn't get to, what is in my mind, the big issue until the last few paragraphs:
Some in the community, though, are wondering whether the final product will truly mesh with the rest of Garfield, or remain isolated, allowing it to revert to its troubled form. An older plan involved abandoning some land near the highest part of Garfield Heights and instead building lower down, right into the street grid that runs north of Penn Avenue. That option seems to be off the table.
Indeed, if you look at so much of Pittsburgh's Public and Low Income housing, very little of it is in places that you can get to easily: Addison Terrace, Bedford Dwellings, Arlington Heights, St. Clair Village, Fairywood, Garfield Heights, etc. are all set away from the rest of the communities and, more importantly, without easy access to amenities, necessities, and jobs. Indeed, if you want to get anywhere in these communities, you'll either have to take a long walk, take several buses, a jitney, or drive. None of these options seem sustainable for people that are, by definition, on a low and fixed income. One would have thought that, if HACP was thinking this all the way through, they would have strategically disbursed their public and low income housing throughout the communities or at least provide them with reasonable access to transportation.

I mean, the goal is to get people OUT of public housing and into private housing eventually, right? Right??

Of course, the reason why they didn't is obvious: the Housing Authority had a problem, they had a place that they owned, and they had a budget (and God help them if they deviated from that budget!). It was a short term solution to a long term problem.

It would seem that, as the middle class struggles with $4/gallon gasoline, planners in the Housing Authority should have considered that the costs of transit and access would be equally (if not more) burdensome to the working and lower classes.

But, hey, I'm sure that they'll enjoy replacing Garfield Heights in another 50 years.

1 comment:

Matt H said...

HACP can't plan anything correctly!