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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hays

MontCo Rep Introduces Fair Share Housing Bill

Speaking from experience, many good bills passed in the PA House of Representatives never get a fair hearing – or vote – in the PA Senate. That’s downright disappointing and indicative of the gridlock that defines much of modern American politics.

Then, there are promising bills that have yet to receive a vote in the PA House. These pieces of legislation, sometimes stuck temporarily in committee, give me hope. Montgomery County State Rep. Napoleon Nelson’s “CHAMP Act” is one of those bills. Nelson’s legislation recognizes different powers and responsibilities of county and local governments when it comes to providing shelter.

Nelson’s “CHAMP Act” requires:

Each municipality to develop a housing obligation plan that describes how it plans to ensure local housing opportunities exist in or near its jurisdiction, so that it can offer shelter to (its) own residents should they experience homelessness.

Nelson, a graduate of MIT and the Wharton School at UPenn who represents the 154th district held previously by Rep. Steve McCarter, also wrote in his memo:

“Federal and State funding flows to our Counties to provide planning and governance of affordable housing and homeless services. However, building development is governed by municipal zoning, not county planning. Pennsylvania’s counties face the responsibility for homeless housing, but they lack the authority to build it. Municipalities have the authority to develop homeless sheltering options, but lack any responsibility to provide it. For this reason, I will be introducing the Combating Homelessness Across Municipalities in PA Act, or the CHAMP Act.”

This legislation deserves our support! Please contact your Pennsylvania legislator today to endorse the CHAMP Act. Much like climate change, addressing our housing crisis will likely require an “all the above” approach to bring down costs, boost supplies, and provide shelter with dignity.

On a recent Zoom call, State Rep. Izzy Smith-Wade-El told Montco 30% volunteers that housing is by far the most important "under-the-radar" policy issue facing Pennsylvania. Representatives and senators need to hear from the people they represent on this vital issue, he said, and with urgency.

In Harrisburg, the Housing & Community Development Committee is where these bills originate. You can check on housing-related bills under consideration during the current session at this page.

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