June 2022 Legislative Update

By Aaron Zappia, Senior Government Relations Manager

As we are in the throes of budget season, legislative actions and decisions are being made very quickly. The information below is up to date as of June 15, 2022. If any information changes we will communicate with you as quickly as possible.

PHARE Cap Increase Receives Approval in House and Senate Committees

Both HB 2665 and SB 1254 raising the funding cap on PHARE—the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund—were approved this week in both House and Senate Urban Affairs Committees.

Both bills would eliminate the $40 million limit on the portion of state realty transfer tax (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.

With both bills receiving committee approval, we anticipate a PHARE cap increase to be amended into FY2022-23 state budget which is due on June 30th.

While we have cleared this major legislative hurdle, it is still important for legislators to hear that funding PHARE is a top priority as the budget is being finalized. 

We thank Senator Elder Vogel, Senator Art Haywood, and State Representative Kurt Masser for sponsoring these bills and seeing them through this important step. 

Thanks to all our member organizations and partners throughout the state for your advocacy and hard work to help get this initiative this far. 

Whole Home Repair Expected to be Considered on Monday, June 20th

SB 1135, Whole Home Repairs, is expected to be considered by the Senate Urban Affairs Committee on Monday, June 20th. 

Amendments to the bill are anticipated to include matching grants for affordable new construction homeownership units and adaptive reuse of excess student housing.

The Whole Home Repairs Fund will allow providers to assess and address homes holistically by creating a one-stop shop for home repairs. DCED will solicit competitive proposals from nonprofit and public sector organizations seeking to enhance existing programs through the provision of all the following services: 

  • Emergency and basic system repairs necessary to address habitability concerns;   
  • Technical assistance and case management for homeowners and landlords to coordinate programs and achieve comprehensive home repairs; and
  • Wraparound supports for job-seekers enrolled in workforce development programs.

This legislation remains a top priority, and we anticipate a funding amount to be determined between legislative leaders and the administration.  Final enactment is still expected to be in the fiscal code.

Blight Bills Move Forward

On Wednesday, June 15th, the Senate Urban Affairs Committee voted to approve three bills to help land banks acquire properties and combat blight.

The following bills were approved:

  • HB 2210 adding land banks to Pennsylvania’s Conservatorship Law;
  • HB 2209 providing for a virtual quorum for land bank board meetings and exempting land banks from realty transfer taxes; and
  • SB 1282, recently introduced by Senators Pittman and Saval, providing environmental liability protections for land banks.

All of these bills may now be considered by the full Senate.

Also, a bill specifically to assist Allegheny County has been unanimously approved by the Senate. SB811, sponsored by Senator Wayne Fontana, will provide Allegheny County land banks with an expedited sheriff sale process as well as lower the redemption period of a property. SB 811 will now go to the House for its consideration.

Construction Cost Relief

The Housing Alliance is advocating for $150 million in new Construction Cost Relief funds to close gaps in LIHTC 9% and 4% deals.

On Tuesday, the House Urban Affairs Committee reported Rep Rosemary Brown’s HB 2664 which requests $150 million from the state’s remaining American Rescue Plan funds to go towards construction cost relief.  Senator Argall is expected to introduce companion legislation in the coming days.

Since the start of the pandemic, construction costs have seen a 40% increase due to multiple factors including supply chain issues, lumber availability, oil prices, and labor shortages.