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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 11, 2022 04:36 PM
From: Senator Elder A. Vogel, Jr. and Sen. Art Haywood
To: All Senate members
Subject: Funding PHARE
In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation to raise the $40 million cap on Realty Transfer Tax revenues deposited into the PA Housing and Rehabilitation Enhancement (“PHARE”) fund. Our legislation will provide additional funding to PHARE; enabling 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), which provides affordable housing resources to vulnerable populations across the Commonwealth, also administers the PHARE program. This program was 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.
When real estate is transferred by deed, instrument, long-term lease or other writing, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue administers a Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) of 1% on the value of the property. 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
  2. $40 million dollars.
Our legislation would eliminate the $40 million limit on RTT funds deposited into the PHARE Fund annually and would instead employ a tiered cap approach over three fiscal years, to end with a final cap of $100 million in 2024-25. In years 2022-23, the cap would be raised to $55 million, in 2023-24 the cap would raise to $75 million, and in the final years of 2024-25, the cap would reach its new limit of $100 million.
PHARE received application requests totaling $107 million in 2021. Raising the cap provision in this manner will enable PHARE to address the increased demand for this critical program. 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. Raising 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 SB1254