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Lawrenceville's Rising Housing Prices May Price Out Average Income Residents

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LAWRENCEVILLE (KDKA) -- In some ways, it's a good problem.

Everywhere you turn in Lawrenceville, there's building going on -- whether it's constructing new apartments, upgrading old ones or just rehabbing a home that's been there for decades.

"We've seen dramatic changes, particularly in the last couple of years," David Breingan, of Lawrenceville United, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

Take the average home sales price in Lawrenceville.

In 2010, the median home sales price was around $94,500.

By 2017, it had more than doubled to $237,000.

lawrenceville building
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

What worries some people is that the popularity of Lawrenceville is beginning to price a lot of average folks out of the market.

For example, the going rate for a one-bedroom apartment might be as much as $1,200 a month.

"We've lost half of our Section 8 housing units in the neighborhood in the span of five years," Breingan said.

Breingan heads up a residents advocacy group that hopes the city will soon implement what's called inclusionary zoning.

"Inclusionary zoning is a policy that's used increasingly across cities across the country that either incentivizes or mandates private developers as they're creating new residential developments that a certain percentage of them should be for folks earning low and medium incomes," he said.

In other words, before a developer is permitted to build, he or she must commit to offer some units at lower affordable rates.

Pittsburgh's Affordable Housing Task Force recommends that in developments of 20 units or more, at least 10 percent are set aside, but the city has not yet required that.

"We're just trying to get it to the finish line," Breingan said.

Breingan adds it's important not to leave people behind.

"As the neighborhood grows, we're growing for everybody, and in particular, for the folks who've historically comprised this neighborhood," he said.

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