New Way to Pay for Affordable Housing Proposed

Apr 13, 2014

Sen. John Blake has purposed a new way of paying for the housing trust fund which is intended to pay to repair and build affordable houses across Pennsylvania, except it has no money.

Act 105 was passed in 2010, but the counties have had a hard time using its provisions due to the lack of funds. Currently payments are to come from Marcellus Shale impact fee, but Blake says it is never getting there. Instead, he wants to add fees to real estate related legal filings.

“My bill would allow for a nominal increase, just a few dollars increase, in the fees for these filings at the county level in order to allow, very little money from a lot of transactions, to go up to the state in order to fund, if you will, to capitalize the housing trust fund,” said Blake.

Among the documents that would see higher fees: declaration of plans, documents settling easements, and Rights of Way. In 2011 there were 813,371 of these documents recorded in Pennsylvania.

The bill will not allow for counties to increase fees for mortgages or deeds. Counties must also decide if they want to opt-in to the program.

“It’s not the only idea that’s out there. If we were to go to severance tax instead of an impact fee on the Marcellus Shale industry, we can create additional revenue streams that could conceivably capitalize the housing trust fund,” said Blake.

Right now the bill is before the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.