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.