For Affordable Housing Advocates It’s All in the Name

Writer Rachel Curry
Photographer Eric Forberger

After helping low income residents for the last 50 years, AHA plans to make York more livable for all
Affordable Housing Advocates (AHA) may be a new name to you, but this moniker is just a refresh for a non-profit organization that’s been championing low- and moderate-income York residents for the last 50 years.

Formerly the York Area Housing Group, AHA works to enhance the quality of lives and communities by advocating for, creating, and sustaining affordable housing options. Their new name better reflects their mission and helps differentiate them from other organizations in the area.

Joyce Santiago, Executive Director of AHA, has a personal connection with affordable housing. She grew up in public housing is “someone who lived through and understands the struggle.” According to the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, the hourly wage you need to afford a one-bedroom unit in York County is $14.21, but the
average renter wage in the area is only $13.49.

“Until those gaps are bridged between what people actually earn and what they have to pay to support themselves, we have an issue,” says Santiago.
AHA was originally founded in 1971 following the York race riots of the late 1960s. Equity has always been at the core of the organization’s values, and their new branding better reflects that.

Moving forward, AHA will continue to support York County by adding to their hundreds of rental units, some of which have built-in subsidies, and all of which are at or under fair market value. They’ll also expand their homeownership opportunities by bringing in more funding and collaborating with homeownership
counseling programs.

Meanwhile, AHA is working to develop solutions following the end of eviction moratoriums put in place during the pandemic. Whatever the goal, Santiago knows this:

“The problem is too big for ego.” That’s why AHA advocates for anyone who can help bring affordable housing to York.

“Our ultimate vision is to be the recognized leaders in creating quality, life-changing, diverse housing options throughout York County,” she says. “But we can’t do it by ourselves.”

YRK Perspectives

What is your hope for York County in the next five years? “To increase availability of quality affordable housing stock and to bridge the gap between housing costs and wages earned.”
– Joyce Santiago, Executive Director, Affordable Housing Association

Affordable Housing Advocates
  • 3 RATHON ROAD YORK, PA 17403
  • 717.846.5139
Affordable Housing Advocates
  • 3 RATHON ROAD YORK, PA 17403
  • 717.846.5139