Testimony of Beth McConnell
Policy Director, Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations
Before the Division of Housing and Community Development
and the Department of Commerce
City of Philadelphia
On the Year 44/FY19 Preliminary Consolidated Play
April 25, 2019
Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Beth McConnell, and I’m the Policy Director at the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.
PACDC is grateful for the support of DHCD and the Commerce Department for our work supporting the CDC community in advancing equitable development in Philadelphia. Thanks to DHCD’s support of our Community Development Leadership Institute, we have trained hundreds of Philadelphians, including community activists and professional staff, in ways to engages resident, form partnerships to create more affordable homes, use art to strengthen communities, and other topics.
But given the massive and growing unmet need for affordable homes, PACDC is calling on the Kenney Administration to support the passage of Bill No. 180351, which would create a Construction Privilege Tax dedicated to the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund (HTF). The building boom that Philadelphia continues to enjoy may be good for the city as a whole, but it is not translating into more affordable home opportunities for struggling Philadelphians. In fact, home prices and rents are rising while the supply of affordable homes is decreasing. The only right way to grow a city is to grow it equitably, which requires that the City make a much more significant investment in affordable homes. Bill No. 180351 could raise an estimated $20 million per year for more affordable rental and ownership homes.
We also urge the Administration to support expansion of the CDC Tax Credit Program. The CDC Tax Credit program has been an enormous success, and is a primary reason why Philadelphia has such a robust network of CDCs across the city that connect residents to jobs, and small businesses to resources. CDCs in this program have reliable, dedicated funding to engage the community in long-term plans for the neighborhood, and stick around over the long haul to implement those plans. CDC Tax Credit recipients leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in private and other government funds for our neighborhoods, market our neighborhood shopping districts, and run job training programs for struggling individuals. Councilman Bobby Henon has introduced legislation (Bill No. 180261) that would expand the program by another 10 slots, which would represent an important investment in our neighborhood economies. We hope we can count on the Kenney Administration’s support.
We also urge DHCD to work with Mayor Kenney to sustain funding of the Land Care Program. It’s our understanding that funding for this program is projected to be cut in FY19, which would reduce the number of vacant lots that are maintained through picking up of litter and short dumping, as well as keeping grass and weeds in check. Research from the National Institutes of Health has shown that neighborhoods where the Land Care program is run experience a reduction in gun assaults, burglaries, and overall crime. This program is a smart, and modest, investment and should be expanded, not cut.
PACDC thanks the Kenney Administration for continuing to support the Targeted Corridor Management Program (TCMP) and the Corridor Cleaning program. On average, CDCs pick up about 12 bags of garbage every weekday thanks to the cleaning program. Under TCMP, corridor managers at CDCs assist more than 100 businesses each year, helping them access the Storefront Improvement Program, private financing, business coaching and training, and comply with City codes.
We also want to thank the Administration for its continued support of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) program, which is funded with CDBG resources. The NAC program helps connect community residents with the programs and services they need to stay in their homes, improve their quality of life and their neighborhoods. Each year, the NACs provide information and referrals for nearly 38,000 households, assist more than 1,800 to connect them to the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, provide thousands of referrals to housing counseling and energy assistance programs, run summer lunch programs, provide computer training and access, and more. They bring residents together for briefings on various issues, from litter abatement, to stormwater management, to free tax prep. We urge the Kenney Administration and Council to look to the NACs to help implement plans to revitalize our recreation centers, libraries and parks, as the NACs are already on the ground engaging residents about what they want to see in their neighborhoods.
We are grateful for the support of Mayor Kenney, City Council, and the leadership of DHCD and the Commerce Department for the programs outlined in the Consolidated Plan. We look forward to working with you to strengthen Philadelphia’s commitment to programs that advance a more equitable Philadelphia.
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