HANOVER TWP., Pa. -

Beginning Friday, you can read -- and offer your comments on -- a new regional housing plan for the Lehigh Valley.

The plan is being created by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission to serve as a guide for future residential development in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

“This is the most comprehensive housing assessment that has ever been done in the Lehigh Valley,” said Becky Bradley, LVPC’s executive director.

A final draft of the 258-page document was distributed to the commission board Thursday night and has been posted on LVPC’s website:
www.lvpc.org.

A 30-day public review period on the draft comprehensive plan begins Friday.

Bradley said people are encouraged to email their feedback about the plan to LVPC.

She may even add a comments box right on the website.

She added people also can mail their comments or call LVPC.

At the end of the 30 days, said Bradley, as many of those comments as possible will be incorporated into the plan.

She indicated the LVPC board will take action on approving the comprehensive plan at its Sept. 25 meeting.

She said LVPC’s staff has been working on the plan for about a year-and-a-half, along with RKG Associates, its consultant on the project.

“It’s a really solid document,” Bradley told her board. “We’re pretty proud of it.”

“It is a very impressive piece of work,” said Atty. Kent Herman, chairman of the LVPC board.

The plan should become a valuable tool for the 62 municipalities and
17 school districts in the two counties, as well as for developers, investors, Realtors and non-profit organizations working to provide housing.

“They’ve actually been waiting for this -- and have been for awhile,” said Bradley.

Key findings in the plan:

• There is an imbalance between household incomes and the price of housing in the Lehigh Valley.

• A lack of choices at both ends of the income spectrum compounds the
challenges to find suitable housing.

• Housing rehabilitation is as great a need as housing development.

• Developers of affordable housing lack sufficient capacity to meet the Lehigh Valley’s need for low and moderate income housing.

There is a “profound unmet demand” for affordable housing for low-income residents, said Eric McAfee, LVPC’s community planning director. He added many of those people “are buying or renting at a level that is beyond their capacity to afford.”

The plan looks at housing affordability “across all incomes” and examines the proximity of jobs and “housing affordable for those jobs.”

It includes five goals for the future of housing in the Lehigh Valley:

• Provide housing in a wide choice of locations to maximize social and
economic opportunities for everyone.

• Provide an adequate supply of affordable housing to meet the needs
of all income and social groups.