Affordable Housing Program

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Ardmore43's picture
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Last seen: 3 years 49 weeks ago
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I have concerns with the affordable housing program that is speared headed by Commissioner Philips. The property at 339 West Spring Ave in Ardmore was recently purchased by Lower Merion Township as part of the affordable housing program. It is priced to sell at $103,000 well below market value. http://everyhome.com/p/mg/le/t5392180.htm
The township purchased it at $130,000 in February 2008. It was my hope that an investor would purchase this home, rehab it, and sell it. I believed that it would increase the value of the neighborhood. According to zillow.com the house is estimated value is $267,500 which makes the sale price 61.5% below market value.
http://www.zillow.com/HomeDetails.htm?zprop=9967014 Ardmore needs more owner occupied homes to offset the trend of so many rental properties, I agree with that. I see the affordable housing program as a doubled edged sword though. I absolutely want to see more owner occupied homes because they have a greater sense of community and a greater interest in the progress of the neighborhoods. What I fear is that this below market sale will decrease property values not increase them as I had hoped. It is my understanding from Commissioner Phillips that this program was created to allow individuals who grew up in Lower Merion to be able to stay in Lower Merion. I find this humorous that the township is offsetting individual’s shortcomings so they can live on the mainline. West Spring Ave is by no means the equivalent of Gladwyne but it is my home. My wife and I take a lot of pride in the fact that at 23 and 26 respectfully we own a home. I was raised in Springfield Delaware County where the housing market three years ago had priced me out of purchasing my first home there. I do not feel that I was pushed out of Springfield by any means. I just could not afford to live in Springfield.

The affordable housing program makes it seem that just because you grew up in Lower Merion that you are entitled to continue living here as an adult. Coming up on two years ago in December my neighbor’s house burnt to the ground and damaged mine and several others. As many of you may remember funds from the affordable housing program were offered to rebuild the house, with a lien attached, because the resident did not have home owners insurance. I strongly disagreed with offsetting someone’s lack of responsibility and foresight to have planed according. I will not get into how the fire started but I will say that the cause added to the difficulty of the situation since the fire should never have happened. As an article in the Mainline Times asked the question are we as a township rewarding individuals for their shortcomings and poor judgment? Yes, I think so. About Three years ago when the old PECO power substation between County Line and West Spring Ave was developed it included five houses that were apart of the affordable housing program. I believe the houses where valued at $325,000 and were offered though the program for $182,000. I find it hard to believe that a $325,000 home should be classified as low income. Just for reference I purchased my row home on West Spring Ave for $182,000 that same year. I would not say that I am low income, I am just young and starting out. And what I could afford at 23 years old was an $182,000 house. So why should the township of Lower Merion supplement anyone’s income so they can have a brand new $325,000 home when they can only afford on their own a $182,000 home? There were homes in their price range available. I find it humorous that in a township like Lower Merion we have an affordable housing program. If you can not afford to purchase a home here there are other places to live and that is what I did. I moved to a place I could afford. So I ask why we are supplementing people’s standard of living. This is part of a larger problem in America today. People need to rely on themselves to achieve their dreams and stop depending on the government to always help. I think alot of people have forgotten what pride is. If you want to be a home owner you might have to go work that extra job to do it. Achieve your dreams on you own and stop looking for a hand out. If we are a township of helping others live above their means I want to know when the program for affordable housing in Gladwyne is coming, I know alot of people would love to live there. That may sound absurd but that is what this program does. And if anyone wants to see what the maximum income levels are for the program please refer to the May 2008 township newsletter online. I want to see Ardmore progress. And I want to see individuals who can afford to maintain and improve their homes. I question if someone within these incomes levels is going to be able to maintain their home in a way that will bring additional value to the community.

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SaveArdmoreCoalition's picture
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Last seen: 4 years 48 weeks ago
Joined: 2005-10-13 :14
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Well, this is a lot to delve into.

You said:

I have concerns with the affordable housing program that is speared headed by Commissioner Philips. The property at 339 West Spring Ave in Ardmore was recently purchased by Lower Merion Township as part of the affordable housing program. It is priced to sell at $103,000 well below market value. http://everyhome.com/p/mg/le/t5392180.htm

The township purchased it at $130,000 in February 2008. It was my hope that an investor would purchase this home, rehab it, and sell it. I believed that it would increase the value of the neighborhood. According to zillow.com the house is estimated value is $267,500 which makes the sale price 61.5% below market value

We, as a group, do support affordable housing initiatives and wish more houses were able to be made available. Real estate speculators who flip properties are not necesarily always what we want in our communities. They are only interested in the pure profit of it all - not being part of the community. And as for zillow, everything is relative and zillow is not always accurate, either. And what is reflected on zillow must partially be considered the over inflated values we have all seen over the past couple of years. There is no way those are going to be maintained. real estate is cyclical and we're in a recession nationwide, no matter what you wish to call it.

You wrote:

About Three years ago when the old PECO power substation between County Line and West Spring Ave was developed it included five houses that were apart of the affordable housing program. I believe the houses where valued at $325,000 and were offered though the program for $182,000. I find it hard to believe that a $325,000 home should be classified as low income. Just for reference I purchased my row home on West Spring Ave for $182,000 that same year. I would not say that I am low income, I am just young and starting out. And what I could afford at 23 years old was an $182,000 house. So why should the township of Lower Merion supplement anyone’s income so they can have a brand new $325,000 home when they can only afford on their own a $182,000 home?

Ok, you probably bought your home at the peak or approaching the peak of the market cycle. Did you buy your home to flip it? Or did you buy your home because you wished to make a home and become part of a community? Have you had return on your investment? Or is it that it isn't as great as you had thought? Expectations are a personal thing, so we won't comment further.

Why shouldn't someone get a leg up to be able to stay in a moderate income neighborhood in Ardmore? Who are any of us to say that someone doesn't deserve a chance? Not being argumentative, but what if that were you? It's real easy to judge unless you are in a difficult spot. Especially at a young age, where you are at the beginning of your life's journey.

What we see happening is a lot of people who used to live here being pushed out. We think people should be able to stay in a community until they choose to leave.

You said:

I find it humorous that in a township like Lower Merion we have an affordable housing program. If you can not afford to purchase a home here there are other places to live and that is what I did. I moved to a place I could afford. So I ask why we are supplementing people’s standard of living. This is part of a larger problem in America today. People need to rely on themselves to achieve their dreams and stop depending on the government to always help. I think alot of people have forgotten what pride is. If you want to be a home owner you might have to go work that extra job to do it. Achieve your dreams on you own and stop looking for a hand out. If we are a township of helping others live above their means I want to know when the program for affordable housing in Gladwyne is coming, I know alot of people would love to live there.

Why shouldn't Lower Merion have affordable housing? Most communities do. And funny you should bring up Gladwyne. Since you are relatively new to the area, you wouldn't know that there are indeed pockets of Gladwyne that are relatively affordable and until the real estate market got ridiculous a few years ago, some homes were slightly more expensive than Ardmore and Bryn Mawr, but relatively speaking, affordable. Not everything is a McMansion in Gladwyne. Check out River Road, parts of Righters Mill Road, and a couple small side streets off Black Rock Road near the Galdwyne Fire House. Radnor Township also has some affordable housing - communities like Garrett Hill are affordable comparatively speaking, and there is subsidized housing in West Wayne.

Affordable housing, to an extent, is what you are living in as well. Affordable housing is not only subsidized housing, but low, middle, and working class neighborhoods. You might not care to hear that, but to an extent it is the truth.

And the people applying through Lower Merion's Affordable Housing Program aren't looking for a free handout that we can see - only a chance at a better life, or if they are elderly a chance to die in the community where they grew up, got married, fell in love, and raised a family....

Most people would love to rely solely on their own steam, but often that is neither realistic nor possible. Some people who qualify for these homes DO work multiple jobs.

People haven't forgotten what pride is, many have forgotten what compassion is and what human charity is all about in the best sense of the word. We think that affordable housing programs try to address some of these deficiencies. Affordable housing doesn't mean bad things for a community. Instead, it preserves a balance.

You said:

I want to see Ardmore progress. And I want to see individuals who can afford to maintain and improve their homes. I question if someone within these incomes levels is going to be able to maintain their home in a way that will bring additional value to the community

We all want that, but to be blunt, just because someone has a little coin in their pocket it doesn't mean they necesarilly maintain their properties better. It just means they might be able to pay someone else to do it.

Economic segregation and class warfare is not a fun town to visit. We like diversity. We hope you write in again. Thank you for expressing yourself and point of view.

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Ardmore43's picture
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Last seen: 3 years 49 weeks ago
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I am happy that I was able to buy a house in Lower Merion that I could afford. It most definitely is a middle to low income area, I fall within those classifications. However the price point they are selling these homes for is way to low. It devalues homes when comparing comps in the area. This is more then a helpful hand this is a huge gift, to much in my option. You ask the question what if that was me. It was/is, I could not afford to live in the type of home I wanted in Springfield so I moved somewhere I could. Living within what you can afford is not a dirty word. I have no bitter feelings towards Springfield, the market is the market. I am young, as I said 26 years old with a house. I am not sitting in a glass house throwing stones here I am in the situation you speak of. I did it, alot of my friends have done it as well, no hand outs. What I take from your commits is that in an ideal world we would have houses like mine next to the mansions in Gladwyne, so unrealistic. Is that what you mean by diversity? As for people with more coin being able to hire people to keep up their house, who cares, as long as they are maintained. Come to my neighborhood I see alot of houses that could use some paint and a good general clean up as a good starting point. I moved to Ardmore because I though I saw progress on the horizon. What I see is many people who potentially want that house will be locked out for being to successful, you make too much money and did to many things right so you can not buy this house. A HHI of $47,500 is under $11.50 an hour. Please do not tell me that you have to work multiple jobs to hit that number. I know people making minimum wage would have trouble hitting that number but then again whose fault is that. Again it goes back to us trying to level the playing field for people’s short comings. It’s not a right to live in Ardmore; it is a privilege for those who can afford it. No one is entitled to anything in life. That’s what kids think today that some one owes them something and that’s where they are wrong. That house was rehabbed to get it livable. It could have been rehabbed to be a fantastic and much more beautiful home. I am not going to debate home flippers make money. They take the risk they receive the rewards. Time will tell if it will be maintained or if it has seen its last maintenance for decades to come. But that is my potential eye sore to look at; along with the shells from the fires I mentioned from two years ago that the township has done so much to expedite the process of fixing. My point is that I want a nice place to live and raise a family. And I do not want to be in a constant struggle to keep my neighborhood nice. What I fear is I will eventually get pushed out because I sometimes feel that no ones cares about maintaining their homes and I do. So is that fair? If you really want to see a bad block look at Holland Ave, it’s a disgrace the lack of maintenance.

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MainLineThoughts's picture
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Last seen: 4 years 48 weeks ago
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Not all of Holland Avenue is bad. And part of what is wrong with Holland has a lot to do with that Infiniti Dealership. Maybe you should get involved with Ardmore Clean Up Group? Do you belong to a civic association? Do you voice your concerns at Commissioners' Meetings? There is one August 6th. You should go and add your voice.

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