Affordable housing bill unanimously clears key Senate committee hurdle

    Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania rally at the Capitol. (Photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

    A bill that expands the state’s affordable housing trust fund passed a Senate committee unanimously Wednesday.

    The legislation, introduced by Sens. Art Haywood, D-Philadelphia, and Elder Vogel, R-Beaver, allows for more dollars to be allocated to the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE), which in turn provides money to affordable housing projects across the state.

    Haywood told the Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee that the Pa. Housing Finance Agency is “overwhelmed with strong applications” for housing trust fund dollars.

    At the moment, the amount of revenue from the realty transfer tax that can flow from the General Fund to the housing trust fund is capped at $25 million. The legislation lifts that cap, but does not guarantee additional funding will be available.

    “If there is extra money, there’s extra money,” Vogel said.

    The committee also advanced legislation to create a uniform definition of blight and to allow local municipalities to offer tax incentives to developers in blighted areas.

    Sarah Anne Hughes
    Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes covers the governor and Pennsylvania's agencies. Before joining the Capital-Star, she was the state capitol reporter for Billy Penn and The Incline, and a 2018 corps member for Report for America. She was previously managing editor of Washington City Paper, editor-in-chief of DCist, and a national blogger for The Washington Post.

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