Philadelphia, Dec. 13, 2018 – City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) joined Council members Mark Squilla (1st District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), and Maria Quiñones Sánchez (7th District) on Thursday to propose expanding eligibility requirements for the Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP), which provides tax relief to homeowners experiencing sudden, sharp increases in property assessments.
Implemented in conjunction with the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) in 2014, LOOP offers tax relief to modest-income owner-occupants of 10 years or more who see a year-on-year tax bill increase of at least 200 percent. The amendment introduced on Thursday would expand LOOP relief to protect qualifying homeowners who see a year-on-year tax increase of at least 50 percent.
“The LOOP program has been critical in helping longtime residents in gentrifying neighborhoods successfully navigate AVI. It makes sense to offer LOOP to even more Philadelphians, particularly seniors on fixed incomes, who otherwise might be at risk of displacement or even homelessness,” Council President Clarke said. “The most affordable home is the one you already live in. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on Council toward making sure every Philadelphian is housed, healthy, and safe.”
According to available data, approximately 3,000 more households – 75 percent of which are located in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)-eligible census tracts — would become eligible for LOOP relief under the proposed expansion. A longtime homeowner in Francisville that has seen their market value increase from $108,600 in tax year 2018 to $272,800 in tax year 2019, and would otherwise receive a tax bill for $3,819, would instead see $1,538 in tax savings.
Homeowners who are found to qualify for LOOP in tax year 2019 after the amendment is adopted and implemented will see a credit applied to their tax year 2020 bill.
“LOOP was introduced as a gentrification protection bill and has prevented thousands of long-term residents, mostly seniors on fixed incomes, from being displaced as their neighborhoods develop at a rapid pace,” Councilmember Johnson said. “In Point Breeze, where the average rowhouse assessment increased 43 percent last year, you can imagine the latest LOOP amendment would open the program up to a lot of residents facing tax hardships who are just barely ineligible.”
Councilmember Squilla added: “Given the unpredictability of OPA’s assessments and the large jumps property owners have experienced in recent years, this new provision in the LOOP legislation protects those with an assessment increase exceeding 50 percent in one year.”
“City Council must continue to proactively support long-term residents in this changing real estate market,” Councilmember Sánchez concluded.