Housing Diversity

Housing Diversity refers to the range of housing options available to residents of Chester County and other areas. Each municipality is required by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code to provide opportunities for all types of housing through their zoning ordinances. Offering a diverse mix of housing, in cost, unit types, and neighborhood settings is important to meet the needs and preferences of all residents.

Closely related to housing diversity is housing affordability. There is a significant shortage of affordable housing in many municipalities in Chester County. The shortage is particularly prevalent in suburban municipalities where new residential construction tends to consist of large, detached single-family units offered at prices out of reach for moderate-income families. Furthermore, low-income households, i.e., those earning less than 50 percent of the area median, tend to have the most severe housing affordability problems.

Housing diversity is also related to housing accessibility. Housing accessibility is a very important consideration for the elderly as well as for other individuals with disabilities. New construction housing should meet the standards, at a minimum, for visitability, or ideally be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, for seniors who prefer to age-in-place, accessibility modifications to the home may increase the ability of these residents to stay in their neighborhoods longer and delay the move to congregate housing.

Advantages

housing diversity

Jenner's Pond in Penn Township includes housing opportunities for seniors.

Encouraging Housing Diversity offers the following benefits:

Limitations

The following issues need to be considered when promoting Housing Diversity:

Implementation

housing diversity

Eagleview in Uwchlan Township contains a range of housing opportunities.

Municipal comprehensive plans should identify the need to provide for diverse housing options as a component of their housing plans. Section 604.(4) of the Municipalities Planning Code requires that a municipality must provide for different dwelling types "for households of all income levels." This should include housing options for all the occupations needed in the municipality. The municipal comprehensive plan should also identify within its implementation strategy any revision(s) required to its ordinances necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the housing plan.

Housing diversity can be achieved through a multi-directional approach that includes both new development and rehabilitation. Municipal officials may need to create partnerships with developers and funding entities to complete diverse housing projects. Developing a mix of uses with mixed-income housing, creates the opportunity for a diverse, inclusive, and vibrant community. Amendments to municipal ordinance provisions that are needed to accommodate such development could possibly be assisted by funding from Chester County's Vision Partnership Program. The Chester County Department of Community Development could provide guidance to developers regarding funding for the creation of affordable housing units.

Examples

Municipalities that have specifically addressed housing diversity in the housing plan components of their comprehensive plans include the following:

Related References

Section 301.(a)(2.1) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) states that a municipal or multimunicipal comprehensive plan shall include a housing plan to meet the housing needs of present residents and of those individuals and families anticipated to reside in the community, including the accommodation of expected new housing in different dwelling types and at appropriate densities for households of all income levels. Section 604.(4) of the MPC states that municipal zoning ordinances shall provide for residential housing of various dwelling types encompassing all basic forms of housing.

Related Tools

Landscapes2 Relevance

One of the primary goals of Landscapes2, the 2009 Chester County Comprehensive Plan, is to "provide diverse and affordable housing options countywide, consistent with the principles of Smart Growth and sustainability, to meet the needs of all households." Furthermore, Objective H-1 states, "Provide an adequate number and diversity of homes to meet the needs of the current and projected population, as the basis for building sustainable communities." To meet this goal and objective, municipalities must provide opportunities for truly diverse housing options. Additionally, through promoting adaptive reuse of existing housing and compact neighborhood development, which promotes energy conservation, which is one of the primary objectives of Landscapes2.