Pittsburgh, PA-– With the expiration more than a year ago of COVID-19 pandemic eviction moratoriums, Pittsburgh eviction filings and rental arrears have now risen back to pre-pandemic levels, according to a new policy brief from the Pittsburgh Budget and Policy Center. In addition, most of the emergency rental assistance funds provided in federal pandemic relief bills have been spent. Together, with an increasing homelessness crisis across the country, these developments underscore that housing affordability must be a priority for Pittsburgh’s new mayor and city council as they finalize the city budget for 2023.
Even before the pandemic, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County—like many other communities across the nation— faced a severe shortage of affordable housing. In Pittsburgh, more than half of the population rent, and roughly half of renters pay more than 30% of their income for housing, which makes them “cost burdened,” according to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Furthermore, eviction filings and increasing amounts owed to landlords in eviction cases have an above-average impact on majority-Black neighborhoods and female-headed households with children.
As eviction filings increase across Pennsylvania, some communities are responding by drawing on innovative tools to avoid evictions deployed in the pandemic. For example, “eviction diversion” efforts in Philadelphia and Chester County serve as an example of how municipalities in Pennsylvania continue to aid renters by mediating resolution of eviction filing cases before families end up on the street.
Author Nthando Thandiwe said, “Pandemic rental relief and eviction diversion kept millions of families and children in their homes in the pandemic. Our city and county need to deploy these tools and increase investments in affordable housing to avoid a slow-motion tsunami of evictions that leads to devastating long-term impacts on health, education, earnings and other indicators of well-being.”
The city and county can take steps to address this need by increasing investments in preservation and production of affordable housing; an increase of funding for rental assistance; support for current eviction diversion efforts, including renter and landlord mediation; and support for legal assistance to renters.
Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.