Pittsburgh Task Force Issues Proposals to Improve Fair Housing

From proposals regarding tenant screening, increased legal assistance for low-income renters facing eviction, applying fair housing criteria to proposed development projects and inclusionary zoning, a task force unveiled a series of draft recommendations Wednesday aimed at reducing barriers to fair housing in Pittsburgh.
The announcement of the proposals on Wednesday at the August Wilson Center also marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which was signed into law April 11, 1968.

“Today is an historic day for Pittsburgh and also for our nation,” said Carlos Torres, executive director of the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations.

The law, which was signed by President Lyndon Johnson, prohibited housing discrimination but also aimed to undo past segregation, said Paul O’Hanlon, an advocate and member of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Task Force, which presented the draft recommendations.
“Our community must assess where we are, and what we have left to do. We can see that there is evidence for optimism, as well as frustration,” Mr. O’Hanlon said.

The 15 proposals range from increased education and training about fair housing, to zoning changes such as raising the city’s residential occupancy limit to mandatory inclusionary zoning — which would require developers building new housing units to include affordable housing — to tenant protections such as robustly funding eviction legal defense assistance for low-income renters.

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