February 2023 Legislative Update
By Aaron Zappia, Senior Government Relations Manager
New State Legislators Need to Hear from You – Their Constituents Who Are Making Communities a Better Place to Live
After a recent meeting with a freshman State Senator, it was apparent that new members are drinking from a fire hose as they learn their new districts and their new positions within their caucuses. It’s a critical time to reach out and get to know these members and present them with housing policy priorities.
While the House grapples with the politics of their narrowly divided chamber, and uncertainly looms over what a divided government might accomplish, housing advocates should focus on educating the newest members of the General Assembly and those stepping into caucus leadership roles for the first time. It is more important than ever for the housing community to come together and work to position housing among the most critical issues to address in the 2023-24 legislative session.
With nearly 60 new legislators between the House and Senate, this is the largest freshman class in recent memory.
It’s a critical time to reach out and get to know these members and present them with housing policy priorities. We have yet another chance to increase the state housing trust fund or PHARE.
Raising the PHARE Cap
The Housing Alliance’s top priority is to increase funding for PHARE (the state housing trust fund) once again. Last year, advocacy resulted in an increase of the cap on the portion of state realty transfer tax revenue from $40 million to $60 million in 2022.
We are already seeing anticipated re-introductions of legislation from last session, State Senators Elder Vogel and Art Haywood plan to re-introduce legislation to raise the PHARE funding cap to $100 million – the original goal.
Expanding the Neighborhood Assistance Program
With tax credits having broad appeal, we are pursuing an expansion of the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development. NAP provides businesses the opportunity to reduce their tax obligation to the Commonwealth in exchange for investments in disadvantaged communities. While the program has multiple goals, including food programs, job training, and education, a significant portion of tax credits are dedicated to the creation of affordable housing for vulnerable populations. NAP tax credits are currently capped at $36 million which we will seek to double to $72 million. After receiving an increase in 2019, the program is already oversubscribed with over $50 million in annual requests.
Home Matters Day
Save-the-Date for Home Matters Day – Harrisburg Capitol
June 6, 2023 from 9 AM to 3 PM
Help Us Raise the Cap on PHARE! We are looking forward to our first in-person Home Matters Day in just a few months. Housing Alliance members from across the Commonwealth will join together to ask their state legislators to raise the Cap on PHARE! More information is heading your way shortly in a separate email.