2018 PHARE Funding Supports Pennsylvania Affordable Housing Projects

2018 PHARE Funding Supports Pennsylvania Affordable Housing Projects

Last Thursday Governor Tom Wolf announced the 2017-18 projects that received PHARE funding. A total of $26.6 million was awarded to 137 housing and community development initiatives in 52 counties.

“The projects that received PHARE-RTT funding will help the receiving organizations meet needs within their communities,” said Phyllis Chamberlain, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.  “These dollars that come from home sales go right back into communities to help address issues related to affordable housing and reducing blight, and that’s beneficial for all Pennsylvanians.”

Officially called the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE), the state housing trust fund was created in December 2010 and got its first revenue source from the Marcellus Shale Impact fee. As a result, grants were initially used to support affordable homes and reducing blight in the Shale region through rehabbing rental properties, homeowner repairs, rental assistance, site preparation, new construction and a wide range of activities based on local needs.

Following their years-long effort to first establish PHARE, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania led a second successful advocacy campaign to enable the fund’s expansion into non-Marcellus Shale producing counties. Gov. Wolf signed the legislation on November 4, 2015, paying for the expansion without creating new fees or raising taxes – instead drawing revenues from future growth in the Realty Transfer Tax as the real estate market continues to perform well. The 2017-18 projects are the second round of PHARE grants funded through the Realty Transfer Tax.

The projects that received PHARE funding in 2018 are expected to assist thousands of Pennsylvanians throughout the commonwealth. The impacts, as outlined by the governor’s office and Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency include:

  • 9,269 individuals or families at risk of homelessness will receive rental or utility assistance;
  • 1,224 homes will be rehabilitated or repaired;
  • 803 new rental units will be created;
  • 23 new single-family homes will be constructed;
  • 128 sites will be acquired or prepared for the future construction of 131 homes;
  • 385 households will receive home purchase assistance; and
  • 10,245 households will receive case management, including legal services, financial education and foreclosure prevention resources.

The projects that received funding demonstrate the diverse ways in which the PHARE-RTT grants can be used to help address a variety of community, social and infrastructure issues related to housing. The following briefs highlight just a few of the innovative ways the grants are helping communities:

  • The Delaware County Department of Human Services received a $470,000 PHARE-RTT grant to reduce youth homelessness by providing up to two years of rental assistance and case management services to transition-age youth exiting the care of Children and Youth Services.
  • In Fayette County, the $500,000 of funding will be coupled with Low Income Housing Tax Credits for the new construction of Fairchance Senior Housing, a three-story building consisting of 18 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom units for persons age 55 and above.
  • The United Neighborhood Community Development Corporation received $150,000 in PHARE-RTT funding to transform two blighted, vacant lots in Scranton, Lackawanna County to create new housing opportunities for individuals aged 55 years or older who meet the clinical nursing home criteria.
  • The Montgomery County Office of Community and Economic Development will use its $250,000 grant rapidly re-house 48 families or single adults who are exiting from a hospital, incarceration, or a substance use treatment facility into homelessness. The funding will also be used to provide rental assistance to low-to moderate income households at risk of homeless.

The full list of PHARE-funded projects, which includes those funded through the Marcellus Shale Impact Fee and the Realty Transfer Tax, is available here, and a map of 2018 PHARE awards and recommended LIHTC applications is available here.

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