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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 5, 2019 01:41 PM
From: Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone
To: All House members
Subject: Fighting Blight and Homelessness Simultaneously
The Joint State Government Commission's 2016 study on homelessness concluded that one of the primary causes of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. As vexing as that problem may be nationwide, and in all communities, urban, rural, and suburban, in some of our older communities, the additional problem of substandard existing housing stock, frequently described as blight, both adds to the problem, and suggests a joint solution.

Typical homelessness rates in recent years in Pennsylvania, according to the United States Department of HUD, included over 1,000 veterans annually, nearly 1,000 unaccompanied youth, well over 6,000 families with children, and an aggregate of over 15,000 individuals. While some can take advantage of emergency and transitional housing solutions, many of the homeless take "shelter" under bridges, in cars, or in abandoned buildings.

While this tragedy continues, we also have owners of troubled properties for whom those properties have become liabilities, rather than assets. They are frequently unable to even give away such properties to the proper authorities due to real estate transfer taxes and expenses. Common sense dictates that one governmental need should not be the direct impediment to addressing another governmental need.

Several other states have passed creative solutions pursuant to the "housing first" theory of alleviating chronic poverty, and it is time Pennsylvania joins them with substantive solutions tailored to our particular unique needs.

Accordingly, my two bill package will accomplish two goals:

I) Will expand the power of existing land banks to enter into partnerships with organizations in the private sector to create local solutions to address the lack of housing for the homeless population within their communities and will exempt all land bank transactions from both state and local realty transfer taxes.

II) Will expand the eligibility criteria of the Neighborhood Assistance Program to include locations within land bank jurisdictions.

"The "Housing First" theory of poverty amelioration recognizes the common sense truth that a lack of stable, quality affordable homes greatly increases the incidence of failure at school, inability to find or hold a job, incarceration or nursing home and acute care placement, almost always at public expense.

Document #1

Introduced as HB897

Description: For those who find past bill number references useful, the first part is the past session's HB1076 and is the piece that provides for legislative findings and for disposition of property and the exemption from realty transfer tax.

Document #2

Introduced as HB896

Description: The second part is the past session's HB 1077, authorizing the neighborhood assistance tax credit, amending the Tax Reform Code of 1971.