Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Metropolitan Pittsburgh Nonprofit Housing Corporation v. Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review, No. 1971 July Term, 1974.
C. William Berger, with him Daniel M. Berger, and Berger, Kapetan and Malakoff, for appellant.
D. R. Pellegrini, Assistant City Solicitor, with him Mead J. Mulvihill, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Wilkinson dissents.
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 357]
The Metropolitan Pittsburgh Nonprofit Housing Corporation took an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County from the denial by the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment (Board) of the corporation's application for a real estate tax exemption. The appeal was denied in the court below and this appeal followed.
The issue presented here is whether or not federally subsidized housing, erected and operated by a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation for the benefit of persons and families having low and moderate incomes, is a "purely public charity" within the meaning
[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 358]
of Article VIII, Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which provides as follows:
(a) The General Assembly may by law exempt from taxation:
(v) Institutions of purely public charity, but in the case of any real property tax exemptions only that portion of real property of such institution which is actually and regularly used for the purposes of the institution. (Emphasis added.)
The appellant is a nonprofit corporation which built and now operates the Lemington Heights housing project in the City of Pittsburgh, the project having been constructed in conformity with the provisions of Section 221(d) of the National Housing Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1715l. It has 87 rental units of which 32 are rented by persons whose yearly incomes average only $5,000 and who also receive rent supplements from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), while the remaining 55 units are rented by persons whose yearly incomes average $7,500. The rents paid by all tenants are below current market rates, ranging from $130 per month for a one-bedroom unit to $200 per month for a four-bedroom unit, the lower rates being possible because the federal government subsidizes the interest rate on the ...