Source: City Limits
The historic preservation movement in recent years has moved beyond focusing on simply saving individual landmarks to being concerned, instead, with the conservation of neighborhoods. Historic preservation now encompasses more than the mansions of the rich and the homes of the famous; it celebrates and champions the neighborhoods, downtowns, and rural areas that are less grand architecturally, but perhaps even more significant in the building of America. This is significant in the conversation of affordable housing because 32% of households below the poverty line live in older and historic homes. In fact, Research by the National Trust and others has shown that older buildings contribute significantly to the environmental, economic, social, and emotional health of neighborhoods and their residents. They provide a diversity of housing types rarely seen in new developments as well as a broader range of retail and office spaces that serve new and independent businesses and support a vibrant local economy.
Federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits have supported the creation of thousands of units of affordable housing in historic buildings. These credits can be paired with Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) to unlock the potential of many thousands more affordable rental housing units. It works by giving a financial incentive that supports investment in historic buildings, encouraging private property owners to rehabilitate historic properties for an income-producing use. Since 1978 the federal historic tax credit (HTC) has resulted in more than 525,000 units of housing in rehabilitated historic buildings, of which 28 percent were affordable for low- and moderate-income families.
In the Pittsburgh region, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) and its for-profit development arm, Landmark Development Corporation (LDC), have worked to preserve and restore many historic buildings throughout the city since the 1960s when it began developing housing in architecturally significant but economically distressed neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh. Most recently, they completed the renovation of Wilkinsburg's Hamnett Place, a partnership that resulted in the restoration of older apartment complexes which added 60 affordable housing units to the neighborhood.
CityLab | "Why Historic Preservation Districts Are Crucial to Cities"
Preservation Leadership Forum | "Inclusive, Accessible Cities: Pitting Preservation Against Affordable Housing Misses the Point"
HUD Exchange | Using the Historic Tax Credit for Affordable Housing
Curbed | "How Historic Preservation Rebuilt a Pittsburgh Neighborhood"