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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 4, 2019 04:31 PM
From: Senator Art Haywood and Sen. Elder A. Vogel, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Funding PHARE
In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation to eliminate the artificial $25 million cap on Realty Transfer Tax revenues deposited into the PA Housing and Rehabilitation Enhancement (“PHARE”) fund. This legislation, will allow PHARE to receive critical additional funding that will enable more seniors, families of low and moderate income, and people with special housing needs to receive much-needed assistance.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) provides affordable housing resources to vulnerable populations across the Commonwealth. PHFA administers the PHARE program, established by Act 105 of 2010 (the “PHARE Act”) to provide the mechanism by which state, federal or outside funds may be used to assist with the creation, rehabilitation and support of affordable housing or home modifications throughout Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue administers the Realty Transfer Tax (RTT), a tax imposed at a rate of 1 percent on the value of all real estate transferred by deed, instrument, long-term lease or other writing. While the majority of RTT is deposited into Pennsylvania’s General Fund, the General Assembly in 2015 passed a specific funding formula for state money to flow into the PHARE Fund. Under Act 58 of 2015, PHFA receives RTT dollars into the PHARE Fund at the lesser rate of either:

  1. Forty percent (40%) of the difference between the total dollar amount of the RTT imposed under section 1102-C of the Tax Reform Code of 1971 collected for the prior fiscal year and the total amount of RTT estimated for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014; or

  1. $25 million dollars.

Our legislation would eliminate the $25 million limit on RTT funds deposited into the PHARE Fund annually. Deleting the $25 million cap provision will enable PHARE to receive and distribute more than $25 million if a larger amount of RTT is collected in a fiscal year. This essential increased revenue can be spent on creating and preserving affordable rental housing units, assisting veterans, persons with disabilities, the elderly, vulnerable re-entry populations, and young first-time homebuyers. Lifting the artificial cap will ensure more of these individuals receive help with payment assistance, counseling and construction, as well as transforming blighted neighborhoods marred by vacant, crumbling buildings into promising avenues for beautification, redevelopment and hope.

This bill will help more struggling families afford housing, provide much-needed security and shelter for senior households, and address critical neighborhood redevelopment needs across the Commonwealth. Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB31