Housing Problems in Rural Pa. Downstream Economic Problems | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo Times Observer by Josh Cotton This Spring Street property was declared devastated by the city panel at a meeting in August.

As rents and housing prices have risen in different parts of Pennsylvania, its rural areas are facing different housing challenges. Bad credit, high debt and no collateral means urban residents are 24% more likely to get loan approval than rural residents.

A report by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania investigated the quality of housing outside Commonwealth cities and noted what lawmakers could do to improve it. However, not all rural areas face the same problems. When looking at home improvement loan denials, for example, a few counties have taken the plunge.

“Geographically, the research team identified clusters of the highest denial rates in northeastern Pennsylvania (Pike, Monroe, and Carbon counties), outside of Erie (parts of Warren and Crawford counties ), parts of Potter and Clinton counties in north-central Pennsylvania, and parts of Somerset and Bedford counties in the south,” note the report.

Compare housing quality statewide, “the quality of housing in rural areas is lower than in urban areas”, mainly due to the age of the housing stock outside cities, as well as a greater reliance on coal for heating and fewer amenities.

House prices in Pennsylvania have risen in recent years due to a lack of housing in high-demand areas such as Philadelphia and Harrisburg, as The Center Square previously reported. Experts also cautioned against the need to “record level building” in northeastern Pennsylvania.

In rural Pennsylvania, more emphasis has been placed on degraded properties and providing additional funds to demolish unsafe buildings. A law passed in July gives local governments more power to provide tax incentives for building homes or repairing derelict properties, as The Center Square previously reported.

These incentives could be key to solving problems with the blight simply because enforcement of the code is weaker in rural areas of the Commonwealth.

“Since the majority of rural municipalities do not have property maintenance codes in place, local supervisors or officers face challenges when violations occur or damage appears,” note the report.

Some counties have limited funds to pay property inspectors, and enforcement of maintenance requirements can be expensive and low priority.

For rural housing issues, one of the keys is that housing quality stems from economic growth.

“Programs or policies that provide high-quality educational opportunities and promote economic development, especially development that can provide higher wages, will have a positive impact on housing quality,” note the report.

As rural Pennsylvania struggles to grow its population and economy, housing quality may suffer until more parts of the Commonwealth can find an economic footing.

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