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06/16/2021 12:21 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=35105
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 17, 2021 03:47 PM
From: Representative Robert Freeman
To: All House members
Subject: Fighting Blight and Homelessness Simultaneously
 
The Joint State Government Commission’s 2016 study on homelessness in Pennsylvania concluded that one of the primary causes of homeless is a lack of affordable housing. The lack of stable, quality, affordable housing increases the risk of illness, failure at school, inability to find or hold a job, incarceration, and nursing home placement, often at public expense.

As vexing as that problem may be nationwide, and in all communities, urban, rural, and suburban, in some of the Commonwealth’s 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 Housing and Urban Development, included over 800 veterans, nearly 700 unaccompanied youths, well over 4,000 families with children, and an aggregate of over 13,000 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 become liabilities, rather than assets. They are frequently unable to sell or even give away such properties to the proper authorities. 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” approach to alleviating homelessness, and it is time Pennsylvania joins them with substantive solutions tailored to our unique needs.

Accordingly, I plan to re-introduce a two-bill package (HB’s 896 & 897 of last session), previously introduced by former Representative Tom Caltagirone, which will accomplish the following:

The first bill will expand the powers of land banks to enter 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 land bank transactions from both state and local realty transfer taxes.

The second bill will expand the eligibility criteria of the existing Neighborhood Assistance Program to include locations within land bank jurisdictions.



Document #1

Introduced as HB960

Description: The first bill will expand the powers of land banks to enter 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 land bank transactions from both state and local realty transfer taxes.
 

Document #2

Introduced as HB961

Description: The second bill will expand the eligibility criteria of the existing Neighborhood Assistance Program to include locations within land bank jurisdictions.