Amidst a massive decrease in federal funding for housing and community development, there is some good news coming out of Harrisburg.
Today, Governor Corbett signed a bill, written by Representative John Taylor (R-Northeast Philly), that authorizes the city to increase its the Housing Trust Fund by $3.5 million to $10.5 million annually. Dedicated funding for the Trust Fund comes from deed and mortgage recording fees. During the recession, these fees declined to about half their 2005 level, putting the Trust Fund at risk.
The trust fund is used by the city and community development corporations to augment other funding streams for the construction of low and moderate income housing.
The bill passed after a lobbying effort led by the 90 member Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC).
Last year, according to Rick Sauer, the PACDC executive director, the trust fund provided or improved housing for more than 850 low and moderate income households, leveraging more than $80 million in non-city funds.
The expansion of the trust fund will be paid for by an increase of $30 in the deed and mortgage recording fee.
Sauer says the trust fund increase comes at a time when federal funding for housing in Philadelphia has dropped about 30 percent in since 2010, but also as efforts are underway to secure dedicated funding through Marcellus Shale fees for a new State Housing Trust Fund. The Senate has already passed a bill that potentially would employ some of the fees for housing initiatives beyond the shale region.