Bills Aim to Prevent ‘Contagious Blight’
HARRISBURG – Legislation aimed at reducing the number of vacant, tax delinquent and troubled properties in Pennsylvania was unanimously approved today by the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, according to State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).
The Committee approved Senate Bill 1414 and House Bill 1682 to establish public ‘land bank’ authorities that would acquire, manage and develop vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent properties. These properties impose significant costs on neighborhoods, communities and municipalities by lowering property values, increasing fire and police protection costs, decreases tax revenues and undermines community cohesion.
“The overall mission of a land bank is to find new and responsible owners to acquire distressed properties, while engaging the market on terms that the market can actually absorb,” Yaw said. “Essentially, a land bank is the intermediary between the previous owners of an abandoned or tax delinquent property and new responsible owners who will contribute in a beneficial way to surrounding properties of an area.”
Both bills enable a county, city, borough, township or incorporated town with a population of 10,000 or more to establish a land bank. It also allows two or more municipalities with populations less than 10,000 that enter into an intergovernmental cooperation agreement to establish and maintain a land bank. The bill establishes the framework by which a land bank must operate.
Pennsylvania has about 300,000 vacant and abandoned properties. Of these properties, 35,000 are in Philadelphia, 19,000 are in Pittsburgh and the remainder are scattered throughout the state.
The legislation now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Contact: Nick Troutman