A home of one's own is an essential part of the American dream. As the Chairwoman for the Senate Committee on Urban Affairs and Housing, I have worked to help families achieve their dream of homeownership. Over the past couple of years, I have sponsored, along with PNC Bank, Wachovia, and just recently, the Allegheny West Foundation, a number of first-time homeowners seminars.
"The housing trust fund will pay dividends for all of Philadelphia in years to come, helping to transform our city block by block, brick by brick." -- Sen. Kitchen
Homeowners and first-time homebuyers face many options and challenges, and they can often benefit from the sound advice of experts. Purchasing a home can be a confusing and frustrating ordeal. With these seminars, we hope to provide some sound financial advice for those looking to buy, re-finance, or apply for a home loan.
The city of Philadelphia has been working hard to help every one of its citizens achieve this dream, but state law has hampered these efforts in the past. Under prior state law, Philadelphia was prohibited from establishing a housing trust fund to help provide affordable housing to our residents. I introduced Senate Bill 684 in early 2005 to rectify this situation. (A companion bill, House Bill 139, was introduced in the House.)
On July 14, 2005, Gov. Rendell signed the Optional County Affordable Housing Funds Act into law, allowing Philadelphia to establish its first housing trust fund. The city has increased certain fees (one-time charges that are associated with purchasing a home), and these funds are expected to generate up to $15 million each year.
Non-profit community groups will use this money to build housing for low- and moderate-income Philadelphians, and the city will also provide grants for home repair and housing emergencies.