Pittsburgh City Council finalizes realty transfer tax increase to fund affordable housing

Pittsburgh City Council finalizes realty transfer tax increase to fund affordable housing

Author: Stephen Caruso/Tuesday, December 19, 2017/Categories: Pittsburgh

Nearly a year to the day Pittsburgh City Council first authorized an affordable housing trust fund, it has finally been funded.

In a mid-day vote, City Council approved a staggered raise of the realty transfer tax, a one time fee paid by home buyers, by a 7-2 vote.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris (District 1) and outgoing Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak (District 4) were the no votes. Both also voted no to the bill’s initial passage last week.

The bill will increase the tax from four percent to 4.5 percent in 2018, then to five percent in 2020 and has faced opposition from realtors, who say the increase will get passed onto home buyers in the form of increased closing costs.

But local activists see the fund as a way to sponsor multiple programs, including one to help first time homeowners pay their closing fees, as well as provide lower property taxes for long time homeowners in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like East Liberty and Lawrenceville.

The raise passed with an additional amendment, sponsored by Councilman Ricky Burgess (District 9), for city council to review the impact of the tax increase in 12 years and see how it has affected home purchases. The amendment was sparked by conversations between Burgess and Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith (District 2).


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