The biggest shortage for low-income housing? Report says Lebanon County

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 18, 2014 2:26 PM

(Lebanon) -- Finding affordable low income housing in Lebanon County may be more challenging than in any other region in south central Pennsylvania, and advocates say the problem is two-fold.

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The results come from a study from the Urban Institute, which finds only 21 affordable and available rental units are in Lebanon County for every 100 families.

The nationwide report used data from the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development, plus Census information, to reach its conclusions.

Sue Bowman, deputy executive director of the Lebanon County Housing Authority, says it comes down to money and mandates.

Not enough funding is available to find people homes, and day to day work can be an administrative burden.

"We have groups we collaborate with. We keep in touch with our legislators both on the state and national level. And we try to make sure this need remains on their radar screen," says Bowman. She recently attended a national conference in Washington, DC to push the issue.

Bowman says in a relatively suburban area like Lebanon County, the problem may not be as apparent, too.

"It represents itself not so much as people sleeping in a box under a bridge but more so with people doubling up where housing is overcrowded because you might have two families residing together. They do have a roof over their head but it's far from an ideal living arrangement," says Bowman.

Bowman says families who applied for two to three bedroom homes in 2011 are just now getting placed in homes, and the well-known Section 8 program has closed its waiting list.

She says the problem goes beyond just funding though - the numbers of available housing units are small.

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