Housing and Energy
Emergency shelters serve as temporary residences for individuals and families experiencing an acute housing crisis, such as eviction or domestic violence. In Philadelphia, the Office of Supportive Housing (OSH) coordinates a network of shelters for families and single individuals.
Homelessness among families with young children has risen dramatically since the 2008...
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) created new funding for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing, which provided over $21 million over 3 years for homeless families in Philadelphia. This funding expires in September 2012 and it is unclear whether the City will be able to continue these successful programs.
Like other urban centers, Philadelphia has a shortage of affordable rental housing. Housing Choice Vouchers are available for low-income families pay more than 30% of their income on rent and can be used for any apartment in the private rental market. Only 2 million housing choice vouchers available nationwide, resulting in extremely long waiting lists in many areas, including Philadelphia...
Continued funding for Housing Choice Vouchers is at risk deficit reduction negotiations.
Philadelphia has a limited stock of public rental housing that is owned and operated by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA). Like Housing Choice Vouchers, the waiting list can be years long.
Philadelphia Housing Authority has been undergoing a major transition after the former Executive Director was investigated for inappropriate use of agency funds. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assumed oversight of PHA properties until the scandal was resolved. The news further discouraged struggling families on PHA waiting lists who are in desperate need of stable, affordable housing.
The high cost of heating one’s home in the winter is a tremendous burden on Philadelphia’s low-income families. Being without heat in the middle of winter is a crisis, and families will do whatever they can to keep warm, including running a cooking stove to heat the house.
Low-income residents access emergency utility assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program...
Pennsylvania will begin accepting LIHEAP applications on November 1, 2011. Funding for LIHEAP and other energy assistance programs is at risk during deficit reduction negotiations.
Empty lots are parcels of property with no housing or other structure are often a sign of urban neighborhoods in decline, without sufficient economic resources to sustain them. In many poor neighborhoods, empty lots become places where illegal activity can take place, trash gets disposed of, and in other ways is an eyesore for the neighborhood.
Land bank legislation is forthcoming - Potential solution that allows community organizations and other individuals invested in community improvement to make use of the 40,000+ abandoned lots in the city.
Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections administers and enforces the City’s regulations related to property maintenance, business licenses, and zoning codes. The department is empowered to take lawful action to correct dangerous conditions, including making necessary emergency repairs to properties, cleaning and sealing abandoned buildings, and demolishing vacant buildings...
The Department of Licenses and Inspections continues to experience reduced capacity due to a series of City budget cuts. Community members often find that complaints to the Department go unanswered.