Pittsburgh’s City Council with a preliminary vote on Wednesday supported the 0.5 percent increase of the Realty Transfer Tax [RTT] to help fill the Housing Opportunity Fund. That will allow the city to pay for affordable housing projects and initiatives. Additional support for the fund will come from closed-out trust funds and surpluses pulled across city departments. Filling the Housing Opportunity Fund with $10 million yearly was one of the chief recommendations the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force made in May 2016.
The road council took to finally allocate funding for affordable housing has been fraught, especially in recent months. An increase in the RTT — which is paid when homes and buildings are sold and is now at 4 percent in the city of Pittsburgh — has been a sticking point throughout. Over the summer, legislation to raise the RTT by 1 percent, which would have raised an average of $10 million per year for affordable housing, stalled after it was clear that the bill wouldn’t pass if it came up for a vote. At that point, only four council members supported raising the RTT by 1 percent.
Then, in the fall, a coalition of council members, including Corey O’Connor and Deb Gross, pitched the idea of using expiring tax credits to fill the Housing Opportunity Fund.