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Council Amends ConPlan to Expand Funding for Affordable Housing, Property Acquisition & Utility Payments

As a result of advocacy as well as leadership by key City Councilmembers, at the June 3rd continuation of the Philadelphia City Council’s Finance Committee hearing on the Consolidated Plan, the Committee unanimously approved amendments that expand funding for affordable housing development, property acquisition and utility payments.

The first set of amendments were to the resolution authorizing the submission to HUD of the Substantial Amendment to the City’s current Year 34 Consolidated Plan, altering the proposed distribution of the approximately $14 million in Community Block Development Grant Recovery (CDBG-R) funds the City is receiving through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Consistent with PACDC’s advocacy around allocating additional CDBG-R funds for affordable housing, funding for Affordable Housing Development, which provides gap financing for shovel-ready affordable housing projects, was increased by $2.1 million to a new total of $5.75 million.  $1 million was also allocated to a new line item for the Utility Emergency Services Fund, which provides grants to low-income families who have utility arrearages and are in danger of having utility services discontinued.  This $3.1 million in funding was reallocated from the Transit-Oriented and Livable Communities Commercial Development Fund, which provides loans to close the final gap in commercial development projects on commercial corridors accessible to public transit that have experienced a reduction in debt or other financing as a result of the recession, reducing total funding for the Fund from $7.5 million to $4.4 million.

No changes were made to the proposed funding levels in the Substantial Amendment for the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program ($1 million for housing counseling, legal services and outreach efforts), Basic Systems Repair Program ($850,000 for major system repairs in owner-occupied homes), Creative Industry Workforce Grants ($500,000 to grow ten for-profit or non-profit creative businesses), and Administration and Planning ($550,000).

The Finance Committee also amended the City’s Proposed Year 35 Consolidated Plan for the year beginning July 1st to allocate $2 million from the City’s General Fund for a new Acquisition Loan Fund that will provide financing for acquisitions initiated using Qualified Redevelopment Bonds, but which are unable to be conveyed to a developer at fair market value.  This revolving loan fund is meant to provide an in-direct mechanism that will enable the use of a greater portion of NTI bond funds to support property acquisition for development projects that need disposition at nominal consideration, addressing a key concern at the heart of the City’s recent audit of NTI bond funds.