Bill would give additional power to Pittsburgh land bank

A bill to be introduced by State Senator Wayne Fontana would allow the City of Pittsburgh land bank to purchase vacant and run-down properties with the goal of getting the properties back on tax rolls.

If approved, the city could buy the properties at sheriff’s sales for the cost of outstanding claims and liens, regardless of bids by others.

This would give the Pittsburgh land bank powers similar to that of the Philadelphia land bank.

“The current Treasurer’s Sale process used by the city is often a selective, long, and faulty process. By amending the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law, it provides the City of Pittsburgh with another efficient and inexpensive option in acquiring vacant or distress properties in our communities,” Senator Fontana said.

The land bank was created in 2014 but has struggled to succeed as a result of difficulty buy property.

“The land bank process, which once showed so much promise, has obviously been frustrating for Pittsburgh neighborhoods but Senator Fontana’s bill is what we need to finally turn it into the powerful, blight-fighting tool we expect it to be,” Mayor Bill Peduto said. “It would be a win-win-win for neighborhoods, housing advocates and city taxpayers.”

According to Fontana, the city is missing out of nearly $5 million in tax revenue with more than 30,000 vacant or distressed properties in the city.