News Articles

Read coverage from across the state about the current challenges of housing in Pennsylvania. 

We are not alone when we say PHARE is working and having a positive impact in communities across the state! The articles below highlight coverage on the success of the Housing Trust Fund and the success of the Housing Trust Fund Campaign.

 



Housing projects receive $95K in state funding

By: The Express
News article
Published: 6/23/2017
URL: http://www.lockhaven.com/news/local-news/2017/04/housing-projects-receive-95k-in-state-funding/

LOCK HAVEN — A Clinton County program to benefit families in need is among five housing-related projects in the 25th Senatorial District that will receive a total of $345,000 to improve availability and affordability of housing, according to state Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson.

Earning $95,000 is the Pennsylvania Interfaith Community Programs, Inc. New Start – Heating, Utilities, Housing and Transportation Assistance Program.

The New Start program will use this funding to help provide security deposit, rental assistance and heating/utility assistance to individuals and families across Clinton County and 11 additional counties in northeastern Pennsylvania.

It is anticipated that 45 households will benefit from this program.

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Human Services seeks housing funds

By David Mazzenga, The Wayne Independent
News Article
Published: Jan 16, 2017 at 4:33 PM
URL: http://www.wayneindependent.com/news/20170116/human-services-seeks-housing-funds

HONESDALE – Wayne County commissioners have signed off on a $353,680 grant application whose funds would go toward housing at-risk residents.

County Human Services Administrator Andrea Whyte said the money would help create a set of five apartments within a building owned by the county near the Park Street Complex.

The grant comes through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement program (PHARE), which provides funding for the construction or renovation of affordable housing.

“We’re asking PHARE for the physical plant, the nuts and bolts” to get the project underway, Whyte said.

The goal of the housing, Whyte said, is to provide residences for people with mental illness, or who are high-risk of developing mental illness, and for youth wards of the county to live in while they transition into adulthood.

If all goes well, the county could hear by April if the grant application is approved.

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More oversight could create more housing in shale region, auditor general says

By Robert Swift, Scranton Times Tribune
News Article
Published: December 12, 2016
URL: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/more-oversight-could-create-more-housing-in-shale-region-auditor-general-says-1.2128984

HARRISBURG — Stricter state oversight on how gas drilling impact fee revenue is spent would create more opportunities for affordable housing in the Marcellus Shale region, a state audit has concluded.

The audit released last week by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale sheds light on a lesser-known benefit of the 2012 impact fee law — the range of housing programs supported by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund.

Act 13 earmarks $5 million annually for housing projects in shale counties, an amount that can go higher if money remains after municipalities get their share.

The audit found that several municipalities received overpayments of fee revenue, thereby depleting the potential pool of leftover money that could go to tackle housing needs in the region. Three townships in Tioga and Greene counties received $863,000 in overpayments from 2012 to 2015. These townships were part of a sample so the amount could go higher if the accounts of all fee recipients are examined, the audit said.

“The overpayments found during our audit is money that could have gone into a fund set up to provide much-needed housing for thousands of Pennsylvania families in areas affected by the drilling activity,” said Mr. DePasquale.

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PHFA publishes amendment to PHARE program in PA Bulletin

By PRNewswire
News article
Published: 7/29/2016
URL: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/phfa-publishes-amendment-to-phare-program-in-pa-bulletin-300306360.html

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency is publishing notice of an amendment to the PHARE program to incorporate the addition of new realty transfer tax (Act 58 of 2015) revenue.  The amended PHARE plan will be published in this week’s Pennsylvania Bulletin, inviting public comment.

PHARE is the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, which was established by the passage of Act 105 of 2010. Since then, PHARE has been funded mainly from natural gas impact fees, and it has supported efforts to improve housing affordability in those counties that have active natural gas wells.

In November 2015, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 58, which directs certain realty transfer tax receipts to the PHARE program. The proposed RTT plan amendment enables PHARE to financially support selected housing programs in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. In 2015, before the passage of Act 58 when it was funded primarily by natural gas impact fees, PHARE supported affordable housing programs in 37 counties. PHFA administers the PHARE program.

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County to get $420,000 of state impact fee

By Mickayla Miller, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal
News article
Published: 6/21/2016
URL: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/county-to-get-of-state-impact-fee/article_3cec9890-3711-11e6-8e59-53c424d1ccdb.html

Lancaster County will receive $420,000 as its 2015 share of Pennsylvania’s natural gas impact fee.

This is the lowest amount the county has received since 2011, when the state started collecting impact fees.

Over the last five years, the county has received slightly more than $2.3 million in impact fees. Municipalities in the county typically use the money for upgrading transportation, water supply and sewer infrastructure.

The fee is an alternative to a severance tax, intended to compensate local governments and the state for cost burdens imposed by Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

The drop in impact-fee disbursements has been attributed to the drop in natural gas prices.

Statewide, more than $188 million was collected in 2015, down from $223 million in 2014. At about $5.7 million, Washington County’s share was the highest in 2015.

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HUD publishes Housing Trust Fund State Allocations of nearly $174 Million

By NLIHC
Blog post
Published: 5/9/2016
URL: http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/02/pa_counties_to_receive_30_mill.html#incart_river_index

HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced the allocation of 2016 Housing Trust Fund (HTF) resources to each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Insular Areas on May 4.  A formal Federal Register notice listing the state allocations was published on May 5. As Secretary Castro announced at NLIHC’s 2016 Annual Policy Forum on April 4 (see Memo, 4/11), nearly $174 million is available for the HTF in 2016.

Secretary Castro stated in a press release, “The Housing Trust Fund will be an enduring resource designed to produce more housing that is affordable to our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), one of the authors of the 2008 law establishing the HTF, stated, “In today’s housing market, many Americans who work hard still can’t afford their rents. A healthy housing market is key to vibrant communities and future economic growth, and these federal funds will help states expand the supply of affordable homes and strengthen our communities.”

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel applauded Secretary Castro’s leadership, and said that NLIHC looks forward to working with HUD and NLIHC’s state partners to “put these new dollars to work as we put these dollars to work building affordable homes for the lowest income people.”

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Pa. drilling communities reap benefits of housing grants from impact fees

By David Conti, Trib Live
News Item
Published: 5/7/2016
URL: http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/02/pa_counties_to_receive_30_mill.html#incart_river_index

When the Marcellus shale boom started bringing waves of gas workers to Pennsylvania eight years ago, some rural communities faced an unusual scenario.

After decades of little or no growth, decent housing was sparse in parts of Greene, Susquehanna and Bradford counties. Sudden demand from workers with few choices of where to live sent prices skyrocketing.

“Early on, rents were doubling and tripling, and people weren’t able to afford that,” said Bryce Maretzki, policy director for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, who noted that elderly residents became particularly vulnerable to being pushed out of their homes in favor of workers who could afford the higher rents. “As soon as leases were done … people were not being renewed.”

Lawmakers five years ago devoted a financial stream toward efforts to ease the housing crunch that drilling created. The money comes from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund that is fed $5 million annually from the per-well impact fees paid by shale gas producers.

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PA revenues remain slightly ahead of expectations

By Capitolwire
News Item
Published: 3/2/2016

Two months of revenue collections are now in the book since a partial budget was enacted and an official revenue estimate put in place. In those two months, with February’s revenue data released Tuesday by the state Revenue Department, Pennsylvania remains ever-so-slightly ahead of the expectations for revenue collection, pulling in $17.8 billion for the fiscal year to date, which is $60.7 million, or 0.3 percent above estimate. Last month, the state’s collections produced much of the current excess in funds, delivering $1.9 billion, which was $51.5 million, or 2.9 percent, more than expected for the month. That was due mostly to stronger than expected corporation tax revenue: $105.5 million, which was $47.7 million, or about 82.5 percent, above estimate. A much better-than-expected collection from the state’s inheritance tax – $89.6 million ($23.4 million, or 35.3 percent, more) – also helped to offset below-estimate collections in other revenue areas. The state’s two biggest revenue generators both had an off month, with Sales and Use Tax (SUT) receipts $9.3 million, or about 1.4 percent, below estimate (total SUT revenue was $668.3 million), and the Personal Income Tax (PIT) $28.9 million, or 3.4 percent, short of expectations (PIT revenue totaled $821 million for February). To date, SUT and PIT revenues are just about hitting expectations, with the SUT 0.05 percent above and the PIT 0.3 percent below. Of the rest of the state’s revenues in February, the realty transfer tax was the only other to report above estimate collections ($33.3 million, which was $6.9 million, or 26.1 percent, better than expected), although non-tax revenues (totaling $35.7 million) were $13.2 million, or about 59 percent, more than anticipated for February. The state’s sin taxes came up a bit short ($1.9 million, or 1.6 percent) of estimate last month, pulling in a total of $101.1 million.

 


 

Pa. counties to receive $30 million less from impact fee

By Candy Woodall, Harrisburg Patriot News
News Item
Published: 2/17/2016
Web Address: http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/02/pa_counties_to_receive_30_mill.html#incart_river_index

Last year marked a tumultuous one for Pennsylvania’s struggling oil and gas industry, and the state’s counties are about to feel some of the pain.

Pennsylvania counties will receive $38 million less this year from the impact fee, which has distributed $856 million throughout the state since 2012, according to estimates released Wednesday afternoon by the Independent Fiscal Office.

The office predicts the Public Utility Commission in April will collect $185.5 million, compared to the $223.5 million collected last year.

The decrease is blamed on a sharp decline in natural gas prices and a 43 percent decline in the number of new wells drilled.

 

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3 more join Kenney administration

By Philadelphia Business Journal
News Item
Published: 1/6/2016
Web Address: http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2016/01/06/kenney-administration-breslin-hersh-landau-commiss.html

On Day 3 in office, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney added three more to his administration.

Rue Landau remains in her role as executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, while Frank Breslin will start serving as the city’s revenue commissioner and Elizabeth Hersh will become the director of the Office of Supportive Housing.

Breslin, a Temple University alum, has years of experience with the City of Philadelphia and in tax compliance, previously serving as deputy revenue commissioner, compliance operations manager and revenue compliance program director.

Hersh has spent her career working on housing issues.

“You will be hard-pressed to find someone with more success helping low-income and homeless individuals find housing than Liz Hersh,” the new mayor said in a statement.

Before taking her new role, Hersh oversaw the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania as its executive director. During her more than 10 years in that job, the Housing Alliance helped drive the creation of the state’s Housing Trust Fund. She also had a role with the transition teams for former Gov. Ed Rendell and Gov. Tom Wolf.

 

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Lack of rental affordability spreads from big metros to small cities

By Spencer Wells, Nonprofit Quarterly
News Item
Published: 11/24/2015
Web Address: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2015/11/24/lack-of-rental-affordability-spreads-from-big-metros-to-small-cities/

NextCity’s story on affordability in Pennsylvania has two great takeaways: Rent burden is not just a big metro problem, and affordable housing can be a bipartisan issue even in a polarized political environment. In “Pennsylvania Metros Where Renters Struggle the Most to Pay the Landlord,” author Marilee Mondon tells how the State General Assembly, dominated by Republicans, enacted an expansion of the State’s Housing Trust Fund. According to the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Act (PHARE) “will expand the Housing Trust Fund’s revenue and reach to all 67 counties with revenue drawn from future growth in the existing Realty Transfer Tax, redirecting it back into the residential real estate market. Until now PHARE was funded by a portion of Marcellus Shale drilling impact fees and was limited to use by the 37 Pennsylvania counties that host drilling wells.

That this plan was supported by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly in the midst of a five-month standoff over the state budget is truly amazing and speaks to the urgency of rental housing affordability problem that has now reached into Pennsylvania’s smaller metro areas.

 

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Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone: House Urban Affairs Committee positions anti-blight bills for House vote; Gov. signs bill to enhance affordable housing fund

By Capitol Wire
News Item
Published: 11/9/2015

HARRISBURG, Nov. 9 – Democratic House Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the committee recently reported out several bills, sending them to the full House for consideration:
House Bill 1437, introduced by Rep. Neal Goodman, D-Schuylkill, would reduce the time a purchaser of a building has to correct known code violations or demolish the structure from 18 months to 12 months.

Caltagirone said the bill is designed to help municipalities rid their communities of blighted, and potentially dangerous, properties, and is the product of the joint House and Senate Blight Taskforce.

House Bill 1455, introduced by Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, would give equal power to parking authorities in smaller cities as in medium-sized cities.

Specifically, it would allow third-class cities, such as Reading, to assign the enforcement and administration of city parking laws to their parking authorities in the same manner that cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh can presently, thereby eliminating the need for such cases to be heard in the criminal court system.

House Bill 1490, introduced by Rep. Scott Petri, R-Bucks, would establish a new neighborhood improvement district category known as Cultural Improvement Districts.

Under the bill, a municipality would form an advisory committee to study the potential benefits of forming CIDs within the affected municipality’s boundaries.

“There are so many pockets within Pennsylvania with historical and cultural significance,” Caltagirone said. “This would allow an area such as Reading to economically grow by utilizing the funding tools in this bill.”

In addition, the governor has signed into law (Act 58 of 2015) legislation that will provide an additional source of funding for the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, or PHARE.

Caltagirone said the new law will provide a dedicated funding source for the fund, utilizing a portion of any increase realized in Realty Transfer Tax revenue, above official estimates, collected by the commonwealth. Half of any additional revenue realized by the tax beyond the base year will go into the fund and the other half will go into the state’s General Fund.

“Prior to the governor’s signature, only certain counties with certain criteria could benefit,” Caltagirone said. “This is a noteworthy expansion that now stands to benefit the entire state.”

 

 


 

Smart Talk: Housing during budget crisis and expansion of housing trust; Rape crisis centers asking for loans from businesses

By Scott LaMar, WITF
News Item
Published: 11/9/2015
Web Address: http://www.witf.org/smart-talk/2015/11/smart-talk-housing-during-budget-crisis-and-expansion-of-housing-trust-rape-crisis-centers-asking-fo.php

So what legislation was approved by a 242-1 vote and gotten Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature last week?  It’s a law that expands the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Act — the state’s housing trust fund.

According to the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, the trust fund has assisted over 4,000 families, through home rehab or repair, rental assistance and development.

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania works to help Pennsylvanians, especially those with low-incomes or disabilities, to find safe, affordable homes.

 

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Governor signs housing bill

By New Castle News
News Item
Published: 11/8/2015
Web Address: http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/governor-signs-housing-bill/article_fc6ba5da-84bf-11e5-ad20-53231d034413.html

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a bill increasing state support for a program to promote housing affordability and rehabilitation efforts.

The legislation dedicates a portion of funds raised from the state’s realty transfer tax for use by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund for projects across the state. The law does not increase the tax, but only changes how the revenues under the existing rate are used.

 

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Governor Wolf signs legislation to expand housing funding for Pennsylvanians 

By Gov. Wolf’s Newsroom
News Item
Published: 11/5/2015
Web Address: https://www.governor.pa.gov/governor-wolf-signs-legislation-to-expand-housing-funding-for-pennsylvanians/

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf signed House Bill 792, along with three other pieces of legislation, into law. House Bill 792, now Act 58, amends the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Law and directs any additional money, up to $25 million, raised by the Real Estate Transfer Tax over the amount raised in 2014, to the Housing Affordability Rehabilitation and Enhancement Fund. This bill expands funding opportunities for housing to every Pennsylvania county.

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Bill increasing support for housing program signed into law by Governor

By Cheryl Schriner, Senator Vogel’s Website
News Item
Published: 11/5/2015
Web Address: http://www.senatoreldervogel.com/2015/11/05/bill-increasing-support-for-housing-program-signed-into-law-by-governor/

Governor Wolf signed into law Wednesday (November 4) a House Bill increasing state support for a program that will promote housing affordability and rehabilitation efforts in communities across the Commonwealth, according to Senator Elder Vogel, prime sponsor of the Senate version of the measure.

House Bill 792, which was enacted as Act 58 of 2015, dedicates a portion of funds raised from the state’s Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) for use by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) for projects across the state. The new law does not increase the RTT rate, but solely changes how the revenues under the existing rate are used.  Senator Vogel introduced the measure in the Senate as Senate Bill 566.

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Governor: Gov. Wolf signs legislation to expand housing funding for Pennsylvanians

By Capitol Wire
News Item
Published: 11/5/2015

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf signed House Bill 792, along with three other pieces of legislation, into law. House Bill 792, now Act 58, amends the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Law and directs any additional money, up to $25 million, raised by the Real Estate Transfer Tax over the amount raised in 2014, to the Housing Affordability Rehabilitation and Enhancement Fund. This bill expands funding opportunities for housing to every Pennsylvania county.

The Governor also signed the following bills into law:

  • Act 57 – House Bill 138 provides requirements that first responder organizations must abide by in soliciting donations.
    • Act 60 – House Bill 1275 allows dentists licensed in the United States or other countries to practice for 20 days during a continuing education course offered by an accredited dental school at the school’s facilities without obtaining a license from the Commonwealth.
    • Act 61 – Senate Bill 765 provides protection under the “steer clear” law to the utility employee and contractors as well as allowing the Pennsylvania Turnpike vehicles to ignore certain vehicle laws while responding to emergencies.

 


 

Sen. Elder Vogel: Bill increasing support for housing program signed into law by Governor

By Capitol Wire
News Item
Published: 11/5/2015

Governor Wolf signed into law Wednesday (November 4) a House Bill increasing state support for a program that will promote housing affordability and rehabilitation efforts in communities across the Commonwealth, according to Senator Elder Vogel, prime sponsor of the Senate version of the measure.

House Bill 792, which was enacted as Act 58 of 2015, dedicates a portion of funds raised from the state’s Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) for use by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) for projects across the state. The new law does not increase the RTT rate, but solely changes how the revenues under the existing rate are used. Senator Vogel introduced the measure in the Senate as Senate Bill 566.

Prior to Act 58, PHARE’s only revenue was derived from Act 13 impact fees with the restriction that those monies could only be spent in Marcellus Shale counties.

“I am pleased that the General Assembly approved this bill and that the Governor signed it into law. PHARE has a proven record of helping alleviate blight, reduce homelessness, create jobs and drive economic activity. Through this new law we have a greater opportunity to help vulnerable residents, families and communities,” Senator Vogel said.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, there is a statewide shortage of 272,045 rental home units for extremely low-income households. The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that 270,000 Pennsylvanians are homeless, including those living doubled up with friends or family.

 


 

Expand housing trust fund

By Derek Kendall-Morris, Letter to the Editor
News Item
Published: 11/5/2015
Web Address: http://triblive.com/opinion/letters/9366974-74/housing-phare-fund#axzz3r6GqAVfd

Our Pennsylvania Legislature recently showed that it has the will to agree when there is a common vision of the need; the solution makes sense and is proven to have an impact.

The state Housing Trust Fund, or PHARE, meets the housing need of seniors and people with disabilities, veterans and low-wage working families. It has also made a significant impact on the economy through job creation and family stability.

Housing construction and rehab have a substantial economic impact, creating up to 200 jobs for every $10 million spent and generating $2.28 for every dollar invested.

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In the midst of the budget battle – a rare show of bipartisanship on key housing bill: Liz Hersh

By Liz Hersh, Oped, Harrisburg Patriot News
News Item
Published: 11/5/2015
Web Address: http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2015/11/in_the_midst_of_the_budget_bat.html

There has been a pause, if only for a moment, in the rancorous partisanship in the state Legislature.

Last week, Democrats and Republicans put aside arguments over budgets, property tax reform and public pensions to unite on the expansion of a proven program that puts homes within reach of those that desperately need the help.

This critical piece of legislation sponsored by Rep. Thomas Killion, R-Delaware, made its next-to-last step to becoming law on Oct. 26.

After winning overwhelming bipartisan support in the state House and Senate, Killion’s proposal to expand Pennsylvania’s Housing Trust Fund to all 67 counties only needs Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature to prove that Harrisburg can, indeed, work.

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LTE: Gov. Wolf should sign the PHARE housing bill

By Greg Simmons, reader of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
News Item
Published: 11/2/2015
Web Address: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/2015/11/02/Gov-Wolf-should-sign-nbsp-the-PHARE-housing-bill/stories/201510290062

There has been a pause in the rancorous partisanship in the General Assembly. The two sides have put aside arguments over budgets, property taxes and pensions to help families keep pace with rapidly increasing housing costs.

House Bill 792, sponsored by state Rep. Thomas Killion, R-Delaware County, would extend the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Act to all 67 counties. It passed both chambers of the General Assembly and awaits Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature. PHARE’s overwhelming bipartisan support is testament to its proven success.

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Letters to the editor 11/2/2015

By Jesse Ergott, reader of the Times Tribune
News Item
Published: 11/2/2015
Web Address: http://thetimes-tribune.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-11-2-2015-1.1965866

Editor: There has been a pause in rancorous partisanship in the state Legislature. Recently, the two sides united on the expansion of a proven program that puts homes within reach of those who desperately need the help.

HB 792 made its next-to-last step to becoming law. After passing the House and Senate by a combined 242-1 vote, the measure to expand the State Housing Trust Fund to all 67 counties now needs only Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature to show that Harrisburg can indeed work. The bill’s overwhelming bipartisan support is testament to the proven success of the trust fund program, also known as the PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Act.

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Editorial: Greene is fortunate to receive housing fund money

By Jim McNutt, Observer Reporter
News Item
Published: 11/1/2015
Web Address: http://www.observer-reporter.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20151101/OPINION01/151109980

Greene County is fortunate again this year to receive money from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund for projects to improve and develop housing.

During the most recent funding cycle, the county was awarded $890,000 to help fund three housing projects and a veterans’ rental assistance program. The money will be used to build a four-unit apartment building in Jefferson with two wheelchair-accessible apartments, to begin developing a senior housing project in Rogersville and to build two, single-family homes in Waynesburg.

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PA senate sends housing trust fund expansion to governor

By Ellwoodcity.org
News Item
Published: 10/30/2015
Web Address: http://news.ellwoodcity.org/2015/10/30/pa-senate-sends-housing-trust-fund-expansion-to-governor/

Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Tuesday sent legislation to expand the state housing trust fund to the governor for signature.

“The Senate’s 47-1 vote coupled with the unanimous vote in the House reflects the broad bi-partisan commitment to a home within reach of all Pennsylvanians,” said Liz Hersh, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

The trust fund, officially known as PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE), supports development and rehabilitation of quality homes affordable to seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, low-wage working families and helps homelessness.

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NatGas impact fee-funded Pennsylvania housing program could be expanded

By Jamison Cocklin, NGI’s Shale Daily
News Item
Published: 10/27/2015
Web Address: http://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/104156-natgas-impact-fee-funded-pennsylvania-housing-program-could-be-expanded

A Pennsylvania program aimed at promoting housing affordability and rehabilitation that has relied for four years on state impact fees paid by unconventional natural gas producers is likely to be expanded with additional funding from the state’s realty transfer tax.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Senate voted to send HB 792 to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature. It would provide more funding for the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE). Since 2012, PHARE has only received allocations from the impact fee, or about $34 million. As a result, only communities where shale drilling has taken place, or those in roughly seven counties, were eligible for the funds.

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Marcellus Shale housing assistance program expanded statewide

By Eleanor Kilbanoff, Keystone Crossroads
News Item
Published: October 26, 2015
Web Address: http://crossroads.newsworks.org/index.php/keystone-crossroads/item/87550-marcellus-shale-housing-assistance-program-expanded-statewide?l=df

The Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund is about to get a lot bigger. For the past four years, PHARE funds have been collected as part of the impact fee assessed on each gas well in the Marcellus Shale. Those funds, totaling $34 million over four years, have been distributed to counties in the Shale region to increase housing affordability and accessibility.

This month, the legislature voted to expand the sources and eligible recipients of PHARE funds. Shale funds will still go to the counties affected by gas drilling. But all 67 counties can apply for PHARE funding drawn from the realty transfer tax.

“The program has essentially been piloted for the last three years,” says Liz Hersh, of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania. “With the proven success of the program, people really saw the benefit to expand the impact statewide.”

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Bipartisan housing bill passes

By Robert Swift, Citizensvoice.com
News Item
Published: October 25, 2015
Web Address: http://citizensvoice.com/opinion/bipartisan-housing-bill-passes-1.1962581

A bill expanding the scope of a state housing program that’s having an impact in the Marcellus Shale drilling region won final approval last week from state lawmakers.

The passage of the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund bill is another example of how the Legislature can address second-tier issues that are important to the lives of many Pennsylvanians, but don’t necessarily grab headlines. Such a statement doesn’t ease the public frustration over the state budget stalemate or the elusive goal of school property tax reform, but it does recognize a certain reality of the legislative process.

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Senator sends bill to increase support for housing program to Governor

By Ellwoodcity.org
News Item
Published: October 23, 2015
Web Address: http://news.ellwoodcity.org/2015/10/23/senator-sends-bill-to-increase-support-for-housing-program-to-governor/

The Senate today gave final approval to a House Bill that would increase state support for a program that promotes housing affordability and rehabilitation in communities across the Commonwealth, according to Senator Elder Vogel, prime sponsor of the Senate version of the measure.

House Bill 792 would dedicate a portion of funds raised from the state’s Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) for use by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) for projects across the state. The legislation does not increase the RTT rate, but solely changes how the revenues under the existing rate are used. Senator Vogel introduced the measure in the Senate as Senate Bill 566.

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Senator Vogel’s bill supporting housing program sent to governor’s desk

By Pennsylvania Business Daily Reports
News Item
Published: October 22, 2015
Web Address: http://pennbusinessdaily.com/stories/510644222-sen-vogel-s-bill-supporting-housing-program-sent-to-governor-s-desk

A bill introduced by Sen. Elder Vogel to support housing affordability and rehabilitation for Pennsylvanians was given final approval by the Senate yesterday as Senate Bill 566.

Now the legislation, which would change how revenues are used under the existing tax rate without increasing the realty tax, goes to the governor’s desk for enactment into law, as House Bill 792.

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Potter County homeless initiative gets $30K

By Potter Leader Enterprise
News Item
Published: October 21, 2015
Web Address: http://www.tiogapublishing.com/potter_leader_enterprise/news/potter-county-homeless-initiative-gets-k/article_b5d06ffa-776f-11e5-813f-0b142265afdd.html

Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) last week announced $495,000 in funding through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhance Program (PHARE) to help meet the growing demand for available housing.

“Here in the Northern Tier, we are at the epicenter of the natural gas production boom, which has created many jobs and contributed greatly to the local economy,” said Baker.

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General assembly floor activity recap for Tuesday, October 20, 2015.

By Capitol Wire
News Item
Published: October 20, 2015
Web Address: *Capitol Wire requires a paid subscription. Capitol Wire news articles listed in full print.

In addition to considering bills related to the red light camera program, the regulatory review process and union intimidation, members of the General Assembly on Tuesday offered up final votes on other legislation.

The Senate voted 47-1 to return to the House a bill that would provide additional funding (at least $25 million in revenues generated by the state’s Realty Transfer Tax) for the PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE). The legislation also ensures the funding for the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund current or future) is not impaired in any way by the PHARE transfer.

The chamber also voted 47-1 to send to the governor legislation that would exempt from jury duty persons 75 years of age or older, federal and state judges or breastfeeding women who wish to be excused.

Also on their way to the governor, after concurrence votes in the House, are bills that would eliminate the mandatory escort of super-sized loads by the Pennsylvania State Police and replace them with certified pilot escorts (prior provisions regarding special permits to allow the limited hauling of sugar and rock salt were removed from the bill); and extend the application deadline for the Persian Gulf Veterans’ Bonus Program.

Additionally the House held final votes on legislation seeking to, for rate-making purposes, establish a process for determining the fair market value of a water or wastewater company acquired by a water or wastewater public utility; and increase the base “minimum” state active duty pay for National Guard personnel from the current $75 per day to the rate of $100 per day.

For a complete list of all the legislative activity that took place on Tuesday, CLICK HERE.

 


 

Shale communities get funds to improve housing

By Eleanor Kilbanoff, WPSU; Keystone Crossroads
News Item
Published: October 13, 2015
Web Address: http://crossroads.newsworks.org/index.php/keystone-crossroads/item/87128-shale-communities-get-funds-to-improve-housing-access

Communities living in the footprint of the Marcellus Shale have faced housing challenges as a result. PHARE funding is expected to help ease that burden.

The Marcellus Shale runs under 60 percent of Pennsylvania. But the areas where drilling takes place feel the economic effects more than most. On Thursday, those counties received $8.1 million in state funding to support 44 local projects that address housing availability, community development and rental assistance.

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PA Governor Wolf Announces Nearly $8.1 Million Awarded to Local Organizations in 28 Counties to Improve Housing

By PRNewswire
News Item
Published: October 8, 2015
Web Address: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pa-governor-wolf-announces-nearly-81-million-awarded-to-local-organizations-in-28-counties-to-improve-housing-300156766.html

Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) has approved nearly $8.1 million for 44 housing projects to improve the availability and affordability of housing in 28 counties.

These projects are being supported by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) Fund, which is administered by PHFA and funded by Act 13’s impact fee on natural gas producers.

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Senate Passes Vogel Bill Regarding Affordable Housing Funding

By Beaver County Times
News Item
Published: July 1, 2015
Web Address: http://www.timesonline.com/news/community_briefs/senate-passes-vogel-bill-regarding-affordable-housing-funding/article_60d9658e-1f4e-11e5-b4e7-cb6458756322.html

HARRISBURG — The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would increase state support for a program that promotes affordable housing projects across the state.

Senate Bill 566, introduced by Sen. Elder Vogel Jr., R-47, New Sewickley Township, would dedicate a portion of funds raised from the state’s realty transfer tax for housing-related projects across the state. Under the bill, a portion of the tax would be used by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, which already directs money to create, rehabilitate and support affordable housing projects.

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Bill to expand State Housing Trust Fund passes unanimously in the Senate

By Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania
News Item
Published: June 30, 2015
Web Address: http://www.homesnotblight.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/HAP_Senate-Bill-to-Expand-HTF-Passes-Unanimously_release_06-30-2015.docx

HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Senate today voted 49-0 to pass Senate Bill 492, a measure that would expand the state Housing Trust Fund statewide without raising taxes or creating new fees. Today’s vote follows similar action by the Pennsylvania House, which earlier in the session voted 149-0 to pass a companion version, House Bill 792.

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Expand Housing Fund’s reach

By Derek Morris, Letter to the Editor,
News Item
Published: June 21, 2015
Web Address: http://triblive.com/opinion/letters/8584871-74/fund-bill-habitat#axzz3dn0WJGGa

The Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund provides funding for homeowner repairs, rental assistance, housing construction and other projects to communities and individuals in need.

To date, it has funneled $26 million, helping 2,800 households. However, it is available in only 37 of Pennsylvania’s counties.

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Legislation would expand housing program

By Abigail Thorburg, Op Ed
News Item
Published: June 19, 2015
Web Address: http://www.tiogapublishing.com/the_wellsboro_mansfield_gazette/opinion/legislation-would-expand-housing-program/article_71531796-16b8-11e5-ab12-cfeef7a290f2.html

Anyone who pays attention to state government, even on rare occasion, would likely reach the same conclusion: they don’t seem to agree on much very often. Thanks to partisan and political differences, as well as a variety of other excuses they point to, legislation that can have a positive impact on the lives of Pennsylvanians stalls all too often.

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“Calling on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass SB 566 or HB 792 and for the Governor to sign the final legislation to expand the Pennsylvania Housing and Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Program to all counties in Pennsylvania.”

City of Philadelphia
Resolution
Published: June 4, 2015
Web Address: https://phila.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2339075&GUID=8896035F-6130-41EF-AFD0-A627AB5044F2&Options=ID|Text|&Search=&FullText=1

Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution for the Governor to sign the final legislation to expand the State Housing Trust Fund.

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Campaign actions: Pennsylvania advocates turn up the heat, launch a new campaign website

By Katie Heins, Senior Organizer, Center for Community Change
Blog Post
Published: June 1, 2015
Web Address: http://www.housingtrustfundproject.org/blog/2015/06/01/pa-advocates-turn-up-the-heat/

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania recently launched a campaign website to promote expanding the dedicated revenue source for their affordable housing trust fund: PHARE (Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund).   The website lays out very clearly the whole picture of the campaign from the why, what and urgency to pass the expansion of PHARE now.

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Wages not keeping pace with housing costs in Allegheny County

By Deanna Garcia, WESA 90.5 FM
News Item
Published: May 22, 2015
Web Address: http://wesa.fm/post/wages-not-keeping-pace-housing-costs-allegheny-county

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania has been working to expand the Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund statewide; the organization will continue that work following the release of a report that shows a person would have to make $15.12 an hour in wages to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate in Allegheny County.

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Mid-state wages aren’t keeping pace with need for affordable housing: Report

By Rachel Bunn, Harrisburg Patriot News
News Item
Published: May 21, 2015
Web Address: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/05/dauphin_county_housing_authori_2.html

Renters in Cumberland and Dauphin counties need to work more than one job to be able to afford the average rent prices in the area, thanks to slow-moving wage growth and continued need for affordable housing.

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Pittsburgh needs affordable housing

By Peter Kaplan in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
News Item
Published: May 21, 2015
Web Address: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2015/05/21/Pittsburgh-needs-affordable-housing/stories/201505210027

Pittsburgh’s prosperity depends on building mixed-income neighborhoods.

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Homeless students on the rise in Lancaster County

By Gil Smart, Lancaster Sunday News
News Item
Published: May 17, 2015
Web Address: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/homeless-students-on-the-rise-in-lancaster-county/article_74c46d3a-fb24-11e4-aa38-ab5d290e1f7a.html

They live in hotels, they’re doubled up with families and friends, they sleep in shelters or their cars. They’re the homeless students who attend Lancaster County school districts, and their numbers are rising.

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Budget motel rooms have become homes of last resort

By Jeff Hawkes, Lancaster Sunday News
News Item
Published: May 17, 2015
Web Address: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/budget-motel-rooms-have-become-homes-of-last-resort/article_6829f32c-fb1c-11e4-9a0e-7bdd058bf1d8.html

In Lancaster County and around the country, it’s not unusual for budget motels to become homes of last resort for people who encounter barriers to rental housing.  Some stay for months.

The reasons vary, but a common theme is how people of limited means struggle to set aside enough money for the security deposit and the first month’s rent landlords routinely require before accepting a tenant.

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Need for affordable housing on the rise, group says

By Samantha Galvez, ABC 27 News (York, PA)
News Item
Published: May 15, 2015
Web Address: http://abc27.com/2015/05/15/need-for-affordable-housing-on-the-rise-group-says/

Habitat for Humanity of York County is seeing a disturbing trend: a lack of affordable housing for the working poor.

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New research shows too many in Pittsburgh paying too much of their income in rent

By RealEstateRama
News Item
Published: May 11, 2015
Web Address: http://pennsylvania.realestaterama.com/2015/05/11/new-research-shows-too-many-in-pittsburgh-paying-too-much-of-their-income-in-rent-ID0922.html

The Building Inclusive Communities Work Group, made up of organizations who love Pittsburgh and value its history and diversity, joined the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania today for the release of “Building Inclusive Communities: A Review of Local Conditions, Legal Authority and Best Practices for Pittsburgh.” The new report provides an analysis of what other cities have done to grow inclusive communities and offers ideas that Pittsburgh might adopt in order to retain its diverse, vibrant urban life for years to come.

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Expand PHARE program statewide

By the Editorial Board, Shamokin News Item
News Item
Published: April 29, 2015
Web Address: http://newsitem.com/opinion/expand-phare-program-statewide-1.1871835

Affordable housing is an issue everywhere. But Pennsylvania has managed to implement an effective program, PHARE, to deal with the problem. The Housing Alliance of PA has suggested a PHARE expansion plan, which is a good idea to stimulate housing improvements statewide without diminishing its success where it already exists.

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Housing fund should be statewide

By the Editorial Board, Scranton Times-Tribune
Scranton Times Tribune
Published: April 22, 2015
Web Address: http://thetimes-tribune.com/opinion/housing-fund-should-be-statewide-1.1867760

Affordable housing is an issue in Pennsylvania. There is an effective program, the State Housing Trust Fund, working in counties that have shale Wells. Advocates are pushing for the Fund to be expanded to the rest of the state through the Realty Transfer Tax, a simple way to contribute a consistent revenue source to the fund.

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Bipartisan push for housing fund

By Robert Swift, Harrisburg Bureau Chief
Scranton Times Tribune
Published: April 20, 2015
Web Address: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/bipartisan-push-for-housing-fund-1.1866721

House and Senate committees overseeing urban issues unanimously approved companion bills last week to provide a new revenue source for the state Housing Trust Fund through an earmark of the state realty transfer tax.

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Bill aims to expand affordable housing statewide

By Deanna Garcia
WESA-FM 90.5
Published: February 16, 2015
Web Address: http://wesa.fm/post/bill-aims-expand-affordable-housing-statewide

Following a report in February that affordable housing is getting harder to come by for low and very-low income families, a bill being introduced in Harrisburg would expand a program that improves rental housing in communities.

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