Philadelphia, May 12, 2016 – Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) on Thursday proposed restoring funding to long-depleted housing preservation programs to help low- and moderate-income Philadelphians stay in their homes and to increase values in neighborhoods that have suffered from disinvestment. A modest 0.1 percent increase of the 4 percent real estate transfer tax would provide $3.5 million to $7 million in annual revenues to service debt to fund critical housing preservation programs.
“As part of City Council’s ongoing effort to make sure every neighborhood in Philadelphia is a community of choice, we must eliminate the backlog in housing preservation programs that work and offer affordable home repair loans to prevent homelessness and blight,” Council President Clarke said. “This $100 million investment is sorely needed at a time when traditional state and federal housing preservation funding streams are drying up, in no small part because of petty partisan politics.”
Approximately $60 million in additional revenue from the real estate transfer tax would eliminate a 5,476-deep backlog of low-income homeowners who qualify for three successful programs that experienced funding cuts during the Great Recession: the Basic Systems Repair Program, the Adaptive Modifications Program, and the Weatherization Assistance Program. Around two-thirds of homes in Philadelphia were built 100 or more years ago, and 110,000 homes are owned by households with annual incomes of less than $35,000.
“These programs have a record of success, but they are severely underfunded. We have a significant number of longtime low- or fixed-income homeowners who struggle to defend their homes from age and weather. No one should end up homeless because they can’t afford to fix a leaky roof or make their home heating system more energy-efficient,” Council President Clarke said. “New investment in affordable home preservation programs is good for neighborhoods, enhances the City’s tax base and effectively pays for itself.”
In addition, $40 million in real estate transfer tax revenue would be dedicated to a new home repair loan program available to households with incomes less than 120 percent of area median income.
“The Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities (PCAC) applauds Council President Clarke for his leadership in generating additional revenues for the City’s underfunded Adaptive Modification Program, BSRP, and Weatherization Program,” said Thomas H. Earle, CEO of Liberty Resources and PCAC member. “Reducing long waiting lists will help many longtime residents to keep their homes.”
Displacement and home abandonment depress the tax base and force the City to bear costs associated with demolishment, remediation, and added pressure on the emergency shelter system. In a neighborhood with an average home market value of $100,000, a single abandoned home reduces property values by $6,700 to $8,700.
In addition, median rent in Philadelphia increased by more than 41 percent between 2000 and 2014, and at $10,980 is not affordable to those earning less than $35,000 annually.
Read the ordinance.
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Council President Darrell L. Clarke is serving his second term as the President of Philadelphia City Council. He represents Philadelphia’s 5th Council District. More information at phlcouncil.com/DarrellClarke
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