The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania is strengthening its cities and towns through the use of Act 153, Pennsylvania land bank legislation. The land banks will serve the purpose of amassing, inventorying, managing and marketing abandoned and tax foreclosed properties.

On Oct. 25, Governor Tom Corbett signed legislation that will allow for the first time, counties, cities and municipalities across Pennsylvania to establish land banks, under House Bill 1682. The bill became Act 153 of 2012 and will be effective on Dec. 24.

"This is yet another step to combat blight in our communities all across Pennsylvania. Specifically, municipalities can acquire abandoned and foreclosed properties," Pennsylvania Senator David Argall told HousingWire.

He added, "This will enable tax-foreclosed properties to remain on the tax rolls, while paving the way for revitalization by the public land bank authority to improve our downtowns."

The land banks are expected to acquire, demolish and produce the use of more than 300,000 vacant properties in the state.

The return of vacant properties back on the market will create an increase in construction activity, leading to new jobs and businesses while reducing local maintenance and restoring lost home equity, according to the land bank act.

The land banks are expected to generate about 800 jobs, $30 million in earnings and $1.9 million in new tax revenues in Philadelphia alone, according to results conducted from a 2010 study by the alliance.

"Land Banks are designed to make it faster, easier and cheaper for any interested and responsible new owner — developers, community groups, neighbors, farmers, gardeners, builders and realtors - to purchase blighted, abandoned properties, and get them back into productive re-use," the report stated.

The general powers of the land bank under Act 153 feature a long list of duties similar to the Cook County land bank proposed draft ordinance including make and execute contracts, invest money, manage the operations of the land bank and adopt, amend and repeal bylaws.

Land banks must create an inventory of its real property, which is available to the public for inspection. A land bank may also sell, transfer, lease or mortgage any property of the bank.

Land banks may also receive funding in various forms including rents and leasehold payments, income from investments and payments for services rendered, according to the act.