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Regional Housing Strategy
Housing has emerged as one of the top public policy priorities in Pennsylvania’s Southern Alleghenies region. It was singled out as a critical issue in Alleghenies Ahead—the shared comprehensive plan from 2018 for Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon, and Somerset counties. It was identified as a priority in the region’s Recovery and Resilience Plan in the wake of COVID-19. And several of the region’s communities have prioritized and studied the issue on an individual basis.
While housing is a clear priority in the region, it is not a straightforward issue. Multiple layers exist that need to be understood to support good decision-making with scarce resources. Vacancy and blight, for example, undermine the housing supply in many of the region’s communities. A shortage of good housing options are also a problem, especially as the region seeks to attract and retain younger households and skilled workers. And, despite generally low rents and prices, housing in the region is unaffordable to households with the lowest incomes, many of whom overpay for degraded housing.
Alleghenies Ahead on Housing is an effort to understand the different facets of this broad issue in the Southern Alleghenies in order to support decision-making at the regional, county, and local levels that aligns with clearly defined goals and market conditions. It represents a housing-focused extension of the regional planning that began with the Alleghenies Ahead comprehensive plan.
The Southern Alleghenies Board adopted this strategy March 17, 2023, and the Blair County Planning Commission followed suit on March 30th.