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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 24, 2023 12:09 PM
From: Representative Robert Freeman
To: All House members
Subject: Permitting Municipalities of any Size to Establish a Land Bank
Land banks give municipalities a means to convert vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties into productive use. Land banks aim to establish more effective, equitable, and efficient systems to deal with blighted properties. Recent reports show that land banks across the country have increased property values, increased municipal revenues, decreased municipal service expenses, increased health and well-being for residents, and improved quality of life in communities.

We have seen these positive impacts within the Commonwealth: using funds from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) and the American Rescue Plan, municipalities across Pennsylvania were able to allocate funding towards turning vacant lots and blighted homes into affordable housing and community spaces.

However, many municipalities have not been able to reap these benefits due to their size. Current law only allows municipalities with 10,000 residents or more to create landbanks, leaving smaller municipalities without access to resources that are critical for addressing blight. We have already established precedent for an expansion of this opportunity; in the 2019-2020 session, we granted access to allow municipalities of all sizes to establish redevelopment authorities. It is time we take this same step with land banks. 

To remedy the financial pressure that small municipalities face, I plan to introduce legislation that would remove size stipulations associated with land bank jurisdictions, allowing all municipalities, including smaller municipalities, to establish land banks on a voluntary basis. The Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs has strongly advocated for this measure, recommending it in their 2021 resolutions.

Expanding access to this transformative resource will revitalize affected neighborhoods and business districts as well as encourage economic development and improve quality of life. It is our duty as public servants to support and empower all our municipalities, big and small. Please join in this effort to grant all municipalities the tools to address blight and promote economic growth by co-sponsoring my legislation.

Introduced as HB1207