Is the EDDC’s housing development what Erie’s poorest ZIP code needs?

At the Hubert Humphrey Building dedication, Nov. 1, 1977, in Washington, D.C., former Vice President Hubert Humphrey spoke about the treatment of the weakest members of society as a reflection of a government: “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

Every time I see an urban development project in the works, I apply this quote to the project’s intentions by asking myself several questions: Whom does this benefit? Do those who benefit already have access to whatever proposed amenity the city seeks to implement? Is it further advantaging the already enfranchised? Whom does it harm? Do those whom it will harm already have access to the amenity the city seeks to implement? Is it disadvantaging the already disenfranchised?

When I look at the Erie Downtown Development Corp.’s real estate development project, Flagship City Living, I see an urban real estate project that seeks to “attract” people to Erie by pushing out those who are too poor to compete with the rising prices of rent. A studio apartment at Flagship City Living starts at $925. A one-bedroom starts at $1,125, and a two-bedroom starts at $1,500. According to the 2018 National Low-Income Housing Coalition report, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Pennsylvania is $1,015. To afford such a space without spending more than 30% of income on rent and utilities, a household must earn $3,385 a month, or $40,616 annually.