Fair Housing in Chester County
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of Race or Color, National Origin, Religion, Sex, Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18), and Disability. Learn more about fair housing in Chester County.
Affordably-priced housing for a broad spectrum of people, such as professionals, tradespersons, first-time home buyers, and seniors is a significant county issue. Factors contributing to this issue include the county's median housing value, which is the highest in Pennsylvania, a growing discrepancy between household income and housing costs, and the demand for diverse housing options outpacing the number of units available. With an estimated 30 percent increase in population in the county by 2045, including 64,000 more senior citizens, affordably-priced housing is expected to continue to challenge county and municipal officials, planners, and the business community. Learn more about affordably-priced housing challenges in Chester County.
Aging In Place
Aging in Place is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level." As many in Chester County age into retirement, Aging in Place will likely become a more widespread concern. Aging in place makes use of existing dwellings and community resources. Municipalities can help residents age in place through their regulations and policies. Learn more about aging in place.
Gentrification is a trend in urban neighborhoods, which can result in increased property values and displacement of lower-income families. See strategies for addressing gentrification in a community.
Lower-income families have a greater incidence of overcrowded and substandard housing conditions, with resulting impacts on those with limited options for safe and affordable housing. Studies continue to document substantial unmet need for safe and affordable housing, and the impacts of substandard housing on children.
- UD 2015 Report - Worst Case Housing Needs
- Boston College Study on Housing Characteristics and Low-Income Children
- HUD - Making Homes Healthier for Families
Barriers to Housing Choice
Land Cost and Regulatory Approvals
In Chester County in can be difficult to build moderately-priced housing due to the costs of land and materials, and the potentially extensive process of receiving regulatory approvals.
Community Design Standards
Standards for residential development, as regulated through local zoning and subdivision/land development ordinances, at times fail to adequately address the variety of housing options and may require excessive infrastructure which increases the end product cost to the home owner.
Neighborhood Opposition (NIMBY)
Over time the public has developed a negative impression of "affordable housing", linking it to the failed public housing initiatives of the 1940's through 1960's that became centers of urban poverty and crime. Based on this, some communities will discourage households with income-levels below the area median. Other communities simply resist change, adopt a "no-growth" philosophy, and reject any proposal for development regardless of its nature.
Discriminatory Attitudes and Practices
Discrimination in matters related to housing, though potentially illegal, occurs in many municipalities. According to Chester County's Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (2005), the most frequent acts of discrimination in the county are directed against members of racial minorities, persons with disabilities, and families with children. Many residents, including local landlords and land use decision makers, may not be educated about fair housing rights and responsibilities. Discrimination restricts housing choice, often having a disproportionate impact on households with low and moderate incomes.
Housing Opportunity Areas
With a growing disconnect between housing costs and incomes within the County, and with employers in need of more workers, it is important to understand where diverse home types (single-family, twins, townhouses, multi-family, etc.) can be created in economical forms to give everyone more choices about where to live. To help with this understanding, the Planning Commission has prepared a county-wide map of municipal zoning districts that provide opportunities for diverse home types. See the interactive Housing Opportunities Area Map.
Chester County Housing Options Task Force — Summary and Action Plan
As part of implementation efforts for housing policy recommendations in Landscapes2, the Housing Options Task Force was established to develop strategies for addressing affordably-priced housing countywide. In a partnership that formed a core group (from which the task force was developed), the Planning Commission was joined by the Department of Community Development, the Homebuilders Association of Chester and Delaware Counties, the Suburban West Realtors Association, and the Suburban Realtors Alliance. In June 2012, the Task Force Executive Committee released their Summary and Action Plan for implementation of affordably-priced housing policy throughout the county. Some elements proposed in this plan have since been successfully implemented, while other continue as part of the current Landscapes3 efforts to address this critical issue.
Urban Center Living
Urban Centers are more attractive to home buyers and renters than ever before. Urban real estate in the U.S. is now more valuable than suburban real estate for the first time. Learn more.
There are many design and construction techniques to improve the energy efficiency and overall sustainability of housing units and developments.
- LEED for Neighborhood Development
- Green Development Codes/Ordinances
- Sustainability Case Studies: Information for homeowners who are interested in ways to conserve energy, take advantage of programs that encourage energy efficiency, make their homes more comfortable during the temperature extremes of winter and summer, and promote renewable energy generation.
Universal Design refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities, and people with disabilities. With regard to housing, universal design includes minimizing or eliminating stairs, curbless showers, accessible storage, and many other design and construction elements. Learn more about Universal Design.