October 8, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia) is calling for fast action on legislation that would protect communities and neighborhoods from blight, declining property values and lost tax revenue that follows foreclosure or abandonment of properties.
House Bill 1774, the Land Banks Authorities Act, was voted out of the House Urban Affairs Committee this week. Fast action in the full House and Senate could allow municipalities to access funding available through the Federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
“Pennsylvania has approximately 300,000 vacant or abandoned properties, including about 35,000 in Philadelphia,” said Taylor. “House Bill 1774 would enable municipalities, including the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, to establish land banks to manage and develop vacant, abandoned or tax-foreclosed properties and return them to productive use.
“When blight sets in, property values decline, criminal activity rises, health and safety becomes an issue and the problem feeds on itself,” said Taylor. “Instead of allowing investors from New York to buy our properties piecemeal, this bill will allow municipalities to manage the development of multiple parcels of vacant houses to get the best possible use of those properties.
Taylor’s legislation would enable local governments to establish land banks to maintain and develop tax-foreclosed properties. They are important community economic development tools to revitalize blighted neighborhoods and business districts and expand to the municipal tax base.
“Land banks would keep tax-foreclosed properties on the tax rolls through revitalization and direct investment in the neighborhood,” said Taylor. “The rise in foreclosures, due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, is putting an additional strain on some of our poorer neighborhoods. We need to take action now to save these properties and to maintain the character of our neighborhoods and urban centers.”
Taylor’s bill now moves to the House Appropriations Committee.