Mayor Issues Two Executive Orders Related to Affordable Housing
The Mayor of Pittsburgh issued two executive orders yesterday (the most recent one was November of 2015) related to the Affordable Housing Task Force report from last year. These executive orders issue directives to various parties (the City Finance Director, the Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment, the Chief Urban Affairs Officer–all of these are under the administration–and the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Authority–independent authorities whose boards are appointed by the Mayor, but qualify “subject to appropriate board action”) to carry out recommendations made by the Task Force.
Various aspects will be explored, with status reports due back at different points in 2017. The Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment is to examine titles of properties and work on financial education and is supposed to have a report in six months time; the URA is to examine residential projects that request public funding or purchase publicly owned land on tenant protections and report within six months; the Housing Authority is to look at what the Task Force recommended for that Authority and present findings in six months time.
The Finance Director is to carry out two functions that we discussed at length in a Policy Brief last year related to a long-term owner occupant relief program and/or the possibility of “increased homestead exemptions for longtime owner occupants”. The Finance Department is to work with Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh Public Schools on these two topics, and allow for review by each “…during the third quarter of 2017”.
We noted that the Task Force mentioned a court case in the late 1990s related to a long-term owner occupant program (but no citation for the case was provided, nor could we locate one or find anyone who knew the name of the case, so perhaps that will be made clear in the report) and currently all three taxing bodies offer a homestead exemption (though there is no distinguishing factor on length of ownership time, just so the property qualifies as a homestead) with the County permitting an $18,000 exclusion, the City $15,000, and the School District $29,447. The School District’s exemption comes from slot machine gaming, so its exclusion is based on the number of homesteads and the amount of money from gaming. The City and the County simply establish theirs by ordinance and could change the amount.