New City Resources for Affordable Housing Proposed

Breaking News! The Putting Philadelphia First bills cleared City Council’s Finance Committee on June 6th, 2018.  Read the update here.

On April 11th, PACDC joined Council President Clarke, Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez, Councilman Squilla, and others at a news conference to announce a new package of bills, Putting Philadelphia First, which were introduced in City Council on April 12th.  The bills evolved out of the negotiations around the Mixed Income Housing bill that PACDC has been advocating for and will lead to more affordable home ownership and rental opportunities for low- and moderate-income Philadelphians.

Under the leadership of Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, and Councilman Mark Squilla the package of bills could raise a projected $22 million per year for affordable homes, as well as incentivize mixed-income developments in strengthening communities.

The primary revenue generating bill will levy a 1% Construction Impact Tax on all improvements as a result of construction or renovation that qualify for the ten-year tax abatement (this does not include ordinary upkeep and maintenance). The current proposal is to dedicate the resources to a new sub-fund of the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund, which would in-part fund a Philly 1st down-payment assistance program to help low- and moderate-income homebuyers purchase a home.  Other programs that creatively address the need for more affordable rental and ownership housing would also be eligible for support from the new revenue stream, including (but not limited to) subsidies to help take advantage of 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits, lease-to-own development projects to help renters become homeowners, and other creative ideas to cost effectively create or preserve affordable homes.

Additionally, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez will amend the Mixed Income Housing bill currently being considered by Council to be a voluntary program that allows developers to buy density bonuses if they provide affordable units on site, or pay a fee in lieu to the Housing Trust Fund.

PACDC will be evaluating the legislation closely, and advocating for a final package of bills that provide the maximum benefit to the renters and potential buyers in Philadelphia most in need of assistance; create transparency and accountability in how the new sub-fund of the Housing Trust Fund makes decisions; ensure that Philadelphia’s affordable housing non-profits can put these funds to work on their effective programs and projects; and ensure that the new fee will not burden publicly subsidized affordable housing developments.

PACDC members have worked hard to build the momentum for new resources for affordable homes, and this package of bills represents an enormous opportunity to leverage our city’s growth for the benefit of our low- and moderate-income neighbors.  We applaud the leadership of the Council President, Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez, and Councilman Mark Squilla and look forward to working with them and all members of Council and the Kenney Administration as these ideas advance.

Please read these articles from PlanPhilly and the Inquirer for more details, and check out this Op-Ed in the Inquirer from PACDC’s Board President Maria Gonzalez.