(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)
Dana Grubb is a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem who worked 27 years for the City of Bethlehem in the department of community and economic development, as sealer of weights and measures, housing rehabilitation finance specialist, grants administrator, acting director of community and economic development, and deputy director of community development.
I didn’t say that developers aren’t the answer, what I inferred is that because they are profit-driven they are looking to make money and that the construction of affordable/blue collar/workforce housing is not a huge revenue-generator. However, I feel they could be part of the solution if policies, ordinances, and community pressure induced them to provide a mix of housing types and affordability. Over many years there have been a number of affordable housing developers in the Lehigh Valley, all non-profits. At issue is that for-profit developers build larger projects (think about the 528 upscale rental units proposed for the Martin Tower site) versus smaller one to ten unit projects that non-profits generally undertake. That ration isn’t a good one and neither is the ratio of rentals to owner-occupied units. Home ownership helps greatly to stabilize neighborhoods, with an optimum ratio of 70% owned and 30% rented deemed the best approach for accomplishing this. That ratio is being skewed tremendously by all of the upscale rental units being proposed and built.
This why public and private partnerships need to be forged. One can’t do it on its own, and the other won’t.