Act 33 was enacted and signed into law on June 18, 2018 to provide counties with greater flexibility in combating blight. The new law, which takes effect 60 days after signing, allows a county to designate a redevelopment authority as the land bank for its jurisdiction.

Since 2012, counties have had the ability to establish land banks under the Pennsylvania Land Bank Act. Land banks are independent public entities created to expedite the process of acquiring and rehabilitating blighted, dilapidated and abandoned real estate. They often work together with redevelopment authorities to help eliminate blight in local communities. But while land banks have been crucial in this fight, many Pennsylvania counties have had active redevelopment authorities performing similar functions for over half a century.

Originally sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) as SB 667, Act 33 will allow redevelopment authorities to possess powerful tools previously available only to land banks, such as acquiring tax-delinquent properties at judicial sale without competitive bidding, discharging tax liens on those properties and sharing up to half the real estate taxes for five years after their conveyance. For counties that have active redevelopment authorities but do not have land banks, the law will eliminate the need to form a new entity and staff a new board before being able to use these tools.

Act 33 does not limit the powers of land banks or restrict the ability of a county to use both a land bank and a redevelopment authority. The law simply provides more flexibility for counties to efficiently use their limited resources. Given the lack of resources and funding in many communities, the new law could benefit those counties with active redevelopment authorities already engaged in the elimination of blight. Act 33 could also help save time, money and resources by eliminating the need to establish separate boards, bylaws and other mechanics that may be cost-prohibitive and impede effective blight reduction efforts.