Mapping the needs of residents, owners, and buildings in Philadelphia, PA to identify properties most at risk of losing affordable housing status because of COVID-19 in an effort to preserve affordable housing, particularly in communities of color.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, Philadelphia was already experiencing a critical shortage of affordable rental housing for people and families with lower incomes. The pandemic has exacerbated ongoing and systemic inequities, particularly in Black communities and other communities of color in Eastern, North and West Philadelphia. As an intermediary and community development financial institution (CDFI) Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Philadelphia works alongside community-based organizations and residents to implement their visions and enhance collective capacities to create healthy and sustainable places to live, work, raise children, and conduct business.
The project’s goal is to conduct a spatial analysis identifying the affordable rental housing that is most at-risk of becoming unaffordable, whether owing to changes in tenants’, owners’, and properties’ financial health or to neighborhood conditions. To collect this information, LISC will conduct listening sessions with housing partners and stakeholders, and it will analyze, assess, and map the needs of residents, owners, and buildings. LISC will work with the Drexel University Urban Health Collaborative to develop indicators that best demonstrate the connections between these needs and COVID-19. The Urban Health Collaborative is Philadelphia’s local data intermediary for the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, which is coordinated by the Urban Institute. More specifically, LISC and the Urban Health Collaborative will document tenants’ existing and projected needs (including basic needs and behavioral health needs), their physical health status, their employment status, and corresponding impacts on affordable rental properties (which are experiencing increased and ongoing costs owing to COVID-19). These indicators will be incorporated into Drexel University’s COVID-19 Vulnerability Indicators Data Dashboard (including an interactive city map) for dissemination to stakeholders for policy and fundraising purposes.
This analysis will inform strategies to ensure affordable housing properties are preserved and remain affordable, particularly in communities of color. Moreover, LISC’s preservation efforts could be used for fundraising support for non-profit owners and tenants or to create an affordable rental housing fund to preserve buildings. The results of the analysis could have policy implications for local and state housing and health agencies.