From the Field: Pennsylvania Advocates Push For Affordable Housing Tax Credit

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, an NLIHC state partner, hosted its annual Home Matters Day at the State House in Harrisburg, PA, on June 5.  The group gathered more than 65 representatives from affordable housing and community development organizations from across the commonwealth to urge their legislators to support a bill (S.B. 1185) that would create a state housing tax credit. Sponsored by State Senator Thomas Killion (R), the bill encourages private investment in affordable homes by awarding tax credits for projects serving households with low and very low incomes.

Pennsylvania is experiencing an affordable housing crisis, with a shortage of more than 250,000 rental homes for extremely low income households. This shortage of affordable homes coupled with rising rents and stagnant wages present a severe challenge to low income people in the state. Advocates say this legislation will help address the dire need for more affordable homes. 

The legislation would provide a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit to private investors.  Based on an analysis of recent projects funded through tax credits in Pennsylvania, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania projects that an annual allocation of $2 million in new tax credits would yield 381 additional affordable rental homes per year.

The state housing tax credit would mirror the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) income-targeting requirements, including allowing for “income-averaging” - allowing apartments in tax credit properties to serve households earning as much as 80% percent of area median incomes (AMI) so long as a corresponding number of apartments target levels below 60% of AMIs. The Pennsylvania program would also target 10% of total annual credits to serve households with incomes at or below 30% of AMI. This is not a project-by-project requirement, however.

“Pennsylvania is in need of affordable housing opportunities for low income residents,” said Phyllis Chamberlain, executive director of the Housing Alliance. “A state housing tax credit will increase the viability of affordable housing projects for developers and private investors looking to build or rehabilitate properties.”

Residents also expressed support for the bill. “I have chronic health issues and without supportive housing, I would be at death’s door,” said Wanda Connelly, supportive housing resident and employee of Project HOME, a nonprofit housing provider in Philadelphia. “Because my housing is stable, I am able to help people who are still living on the streets. Funding for supportive housing will save lives and help people get back on their feet.”

For more information, contact Levana Layendecker, deputy director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, at [email protected] or 215-576-7044.