Despite the persistent warnings about soaring housing prices, efforts to expand the housing supply have made little headway, as outlined in a report by Up For Growth, a research group dedicated to addressing housing shortages. The report underscores that Pennsylvania is grappling with a housing deficit of 97,000 units, a figure that has remained unchanged since the previous year. Analyzing data from 2012 to 2021, the report underscores that the Philadelphia metro area faces a shortage of 80,000 units, while the Allentown region lacks 14,000 units. Moreover, both Reading and Lancaster are each short by over 5,000 units. These shortages have led to a consistent uptick in median rents, increasing by approximately 3% annually since 2012.\
Housing supply stagnant despite growing affordability concernshttps://t.co/5SaBFjerrW
— The Center Square (@thecentersquare) October 25, 2023
While housing shortages have garnered some attention in the General Assembly, meaningful progress in addressing the issue remains limited. Senate Republicans convened a hearing in May, primarily focusing on local zoning restrictions as a barrier to new housing construction. Their discussions revolved around the idea of relaxing municipal planning codes to stimulate construction. Similarly, House Democrats stressed the necessity of boosting housing supply to counter escalating home prices. Nevertheless, these discussions have yet to translate into concrete actions.
The report from Up For Growth urges the removal of regulatory obstacles and increased investment in infrastructure in high-opportunity neighborhoods. The group also advocates for the promotion of medium- and higher-density developments. Furthermore, it highlights the challenge of NIMBYism, a term denoting the opposition of residents to new developments in their communities, as a significant impediment to affordable housing. The report notes that NIMBY objections are the most common hindrance to new construction, according to a survey of developers and property managers.
It's important to note that this housing deficit isn't confined to Pennsylvania; it's a nationwide concern. Suburban and rural areas in Pennsylvania have witnessed increased demand due to population shifts during the pandemic. Some experts argue that areas like Lycoming County lack any affordable housing options. Additionally, home construction in Pennsylvania is down 60% compared to its peak in 2004.
The report concludes by stressing that no state is adequately providing housing for its residents. Policymakers are urged to prioritize new funding sources, invest in construction innovations, and navigate the challenges posed by NIMBY opposition to effectively address the housing crisis.