Will proposed new apartments be “affordable”?

(The latest in a series of posts on Neighborhoods and Affordable Housing)

Andrew Wagaman, “City Center to offer ‘financially attainable’ apartments in 200-unit complex at former Holiday Inn in Allentown.” Morning Call, July 9, 2019.

Kevin Duffy, “After three years, nearly 100 high-end apartments at old Palmer Township industrial site could start going up.” Morning Call, July 9, 2019.

Nicole Radzievich, “And sew it goes . . . ‘starter’ apartments proposed for former textile factory in Bethlehem.” Morning Call, July 9, 2019.

So the question of affordable housing has been threading its way through Gadfly recently. All of a sudden, today is affordable housing day in the print version of the Morning Call. Not one, not two, but three articles. Affordable housing in Allentown, Palmer Township, and Bethlehem.

Gadfly realizes that “affordable housing” is a relative number — ability to allocate up to 30% of your income to housing costs is “affordable.”

And what we’re interested in more of is housing that low and moderate income individuals and families can afford.

In the Allentown plan above, studio apts are figured at $750/mo and one-bedrooms at $950/mo. Can somebody do the math on that? Will those apts do low and moderate incomers any good?

So we’ve been hearing about the lack of affordable housing, well, specifically, on the Southside.

But at the Planning Commission tomorrow there are two proposals for a total of 97 new apartments.

Planning 1Gadfly’s question is, will they be affordable in the way we are talking about? Or will we see the all-too-familiar “luxury apartments” signs plastered on them?

The Bethlehem developer (he whose name shall not be spoken) speaks of his project as “starter” apartments. That sounds good. (But I think of the poor senior guy pleading for affordable housing on the Martin Tower site at the very end of the Nitschmann meeting — can there be “finisher” apartments too?!)

Gadfly’s other question is, does the City/Planning Commission have any power or influence on the pricing of the apartments?

How about the “density bonus” permissible under our code cited by CW Negron?

1830 13th Ave.
Planning 2
565 W. Lehigh St.

This is a large number of new apartments.

A Facebook follower of CW Van Wirt moaned, “How many apartments are enough?”

But maybe the more important consideration is what the rental prices will be.

(O, my, look at agenda item #1 too — a 70% increase in units?!  Gonna be an interesting meeting.)

One thought on “Will proposed new apartments be “affordable”?

  1. To Anna Smith: Is there an accepted, reasonably-authoritative definition of ‘affordable housing’?
    (Some people have suggested that $1500/mo + for an apparent is affordable housing.)

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