Housing Task Force Statement

This group and effort were initiated by the Patton Township Board of Supervisors, and it endures as the township continues to look at ways to achieve more attainable housing because this is a pressing issue. We are a group of people who want to see better opportunities for attainable housing. We are citizen volunteers working together and hoping to work with everyone.

During our research, we discussed proximity to employment, services, and shopping that was guided by a 90-minute presentation we received which informed us about the importance of connectivity for travel on foot, by bike, and through public transportation. Individuals and families have different needs and desires for housing that can change over various life-stages. We aim to respect the current residents of our neighborhoods and we strive to respect the potential residents of our neighborhoods whether they be single-person households, couples, roommates, those with disabilities, or retirees.

Conversations we have had with others in our community led to personal stories. One such story is of a young teacher in the school district who started out living in a rental home in Park Forrest and rode his bike to work. He lived with two roommates he didn’t know. An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) would provide a wonderful opportunity for a teacher to have a more private living situation as a young professional. The State College school district is one of the largest employers in Centre County, with other young teachers facing the same affordability challenges. If we want teachers to be a part of the communities surrounding the schools, we need to face the reality about their salaries compared with the cost of housing in this market. Mount Nittany Medical Center and Geisinger Clinic are also among the largest employers. Many young medical professionals have student loans that burden their opportunities for housing, for both the monthly payment and because of the debt ratios.

Recently, a team of Penn State students won a college case competition in which the goal was to develop a plan for a real-world mixed-income housing project. The team members were majors in finance, risk management, and entrepreneurship. They took the top prize over 30 other teams.

That is the type of energy we hope will be brought to the report recommendations. This is the time to think through possibilities, embrace the positive outcome opportunities, and identify the regulations that will be consistent with those outcomes. This is not to suggest that there aren’t concerns that should be considered, but instead to say that the concerns should be guideposts, not roadblocks to the conversation.

The Housing Task Force provided recommendations and we appreciate the detailed work of the Planning Commission to develop a specific framework that will serve the community as a whole.