The Senate today (June 30) approved legislation introduced by Senator Elder Vogel that would increase state support for a program that promotes housing affordability and rehabilitation in communities across the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 566 would dedicate a portion of funds raised from the state’s Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) for use by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) for projects across the state. The legislation does not increase the RTT rate, but solely changes how the revenues under the existing rate are used.
Currently, PHARE’s only revenue is from Act 13 impact fees and those monies may only be spent in Marcellus Shale counties. Revenues generated through impact fees provide resources for home repairs, new construction, rental assistance, home rehabilitation, and demolition.
“The economic case for strengthening PHARE – which has already proven its power to help alleviate blight, reduce homelessness, create jobs and drive economic activity – is compelling. But the broader good that we have the opportunity to offer vulnerable residents, families and communities, is even more profound,” Senator Vogel said. “Across Pennsylvania, we see blighted and abandoned properties overwhelming the housing market. PHARE funds can be used to remediate blight as well as develop homes within reach of low wage workers and people on fixed income.”
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, there is a statewide shortage of 266,000 rental homes that are both affordable and available to households earning about $20,000 or less. The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that 270,000 Pennsylvanians are homeless, including those living doubled up with friends or family.