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‘Habitat for Humanity' Homes Hit Hard by Reassessment

Allegheny County's court-ordered property reassessment has increased the values of many properties countywide, including 60 homes built for low-income residents by the "Habitat for Humanity" project.

Many such "Habitat" homes are doubling or even tripling in value, said Kurt Weber of the Babst Calland law firm.

"We have one gentleman who is a pastor, who has a house in Braddock. His initial assessment was around $30,000. His new assessment is $100,000," said Weber.

According to Weber, the problem is that the low-income Habitat homeowners are responsible for property tax payments under the agreement they make with Habitat for Humanity. Therefore, they'll be burdened with higher taxes, though their income remains low.

"Part of it is, you have to supply so much sweat equity. You have to be in a certain income level. You have to have a job. You have to do a number of things that they require, and part of it is paying your taxes," said Weber.

Weber said Babst Calland is offering free legal assistance to the Habitat homeowners to help them appeal the new property values. If they're not overturned by the County Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review, the new property values are set to take effect in 2013.