Pennsylvania's land bank bill to come before the State Senate

A land bank can make reusing vacant buand put them back into usefficient. Image from Take Back Vacant Land.

Members of the Pennsylvania State Senate will vote this week on proposed legislation that would make it easier to buy and redevelop blighted properties in the state.

HB 1682 would enable local leaders in Pennsylvania to establish land banks, entities that can hold and manage vacant properties to help get properties into the hands of responsible new owners more quickly. The bill passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in February and now awaits consideration by the Pennsylvania State Senate.

Currently the process for receiving a clear title to a vacant property is expensive and difficult. It is often impossible for prospective buyers to find the current property owner, and some vacant properties come with a tremendous amount of debt – sometimes even exceeding property’s value – which can make a sale impossible.

And these blighted properties come at a high cost to the State. A 2010 study found that the City of Philadelphia spends $20 million each year on maintenance costs alone for its abandoned properties. And, because of the blight, Philadelphia property owners lost $3.6 billion in household wealth between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010.

There are currently an estimated 300,000 vacant properties across the state of Pennsylvania. Redeveloping these properties into homes and businesses would create jobs, reduce maintenance costs for local governments, and increase home equity. Restoring abandoned properties in Philadelphia alone would generate 800 jobs, $30 million in earning, and $1.9 million in new tax revenues.

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania has been one of the key players in making sure this issue remains a top priority for elected officials and community members in Pennsylvania. With the Pennsylvania fall legislative session underway, the organization is asking all community members to write and call their state Senators urging them to pass HB1682

Pennsylvanians: Call your State Senator today
The Pennsylvania Senate is scheduled to vote on HB 1682 this coming Monday, October 1, 2012. If you live in Pennsylvania, call or email your Senator today and urge him or her to support this important legislation.