VICTORY! $70 million for affordable homes in Philadelphia

Today, City Council and the Kenney Administration announced an agreement to allocate $70 million in General Fund revenue for affordable housing over the next five years, beginning in the current Fiscal Year 2019.    An ordinance to authorize the $21 million for the first year of funding was introduced at Council’s Stated Meeting today, September 13th.  This agreement is an an alternative to the 1% Construction Impact Tax, which passed Council on June 21st but was opposed by the Kenney Administration.  The bill was recalled today by sponsor Councilman Squilla in light of the new agreement.  PACDC is enormously grateful to Council President Darrell Clarke, and Councilmembers Maria Quinones Sanchez and Mark Squilla for championing these efforts over the last year.  We applaud Mayor Kenney for working with Council to reach today’s agreement.         


While this is a significant victory, we know the need is far greater.  There are more than 100,000 low-income Philadelphia households desperate for safe, stable, affordable homes.  PACDC is encouraged to learn that Council and Mayor Kenney are committed to continuing negotiations over funding for affordable homes.   PACDC is calling for a permanent, annual dedication of at least $20 million in additional revenue for the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund, beyond current Deed and Mortgage Recording Fee revenue


New U.S. Census data released this week shows that Philadelphia’s poverty rate remained stubbornly high in 2017 at 25%.  This is despite several years of booming market rate construction, demonstrating that low-income Philadelphians are not benefiting from the city’s growth and renewal.  PACDC has been calling for aggressive equitable development policies to ensure that low-income Philadelphians benefit from a strengthening city.  In 2015, we launched our campaign Can’t Wait to Be Home: Double the Housing Trust Fund, calling on Council and the Administration to boost dedicated annual funding.  In 2017, we launched another campaign, Affordable Homes for a Growing Philly to support policies that would require that developers either create affordable units, or contribute payments in lieu to the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund. 


PACDC’s campaigns continue as Council and the Administration continue negotiating on Housing Trust Fund funding.  Additionally, Bill No. 170678 which offers developers density bonuses for providing affordable homes or paying into the Housing Trust Fund, was recalled by its sponsor Councilwoman Sanchez today in order to consider additional amendments to strengthen the bill further.


While we believe that developers that benefit from public subsidies through the 10-Year Tax Abatement should be required to contribute resources for affordable homes, what’s most important is that low-income Philadelphians get the housing support they need quickly.  The Housing Trust Fund invests in creating new affordable homes, repairing and preserving existing affordable homes, and preventing homelessness.  Over it’s twelve year history, more than 80% of Housing Trust Fund revenues have supported households under 30% Area Median Income, or around $26,000 per year for a family of four.  


Please call, email, or tweet to thank Council President Clarke, and Councilmembers Sanchez and Squilla (visit to find contact info) for championing these efforts, and contact Mayor Kenney at (215) 686-2181 to thank him for today’s agreement.