COUNCILMAN KENYATTA JOHNSON’S PROPERTY TAX RELIEF AMENDMENT FOR LONGTIME HOMEOWNERS PASSES UNANIMOUSLY IN CITY COUNCIL

In Council News, Kenyatta Johnson, News by PHL Council

PHILADELPHIA, April 5, 2018 — City Council unanimously passed Bill No. 170901 today. Bill No. 170901 modifies the Longtime Owner-Occupants Program (LOOP) to remove a 10-year participation limit.

LOOP was enacted in 2014 to protect longtime homeowners from property tax spikes resulting from the 2013 Actual Value Initiative. Household income eligibility was capped at 150 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). The program was initially set to expire in 2024, but it was amended by legislation Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) introduced in 2016 (Bill No. 160012) to remove the 10-year limit for households with incomes up to 80 percent of AMI.

Bill No. 170901 amends LOOP further to remove the 10-year limit for households with incomes between 80 to 150 percent AMI. Without this amendment, 29 percent of enrollees will be kicked out of the program in 2024 and see their property taxes dramatically increase.

“The largest number of LOOP enrollees, who saw their property taxes triple or more in 2013, live in South Philadelphia. These are long-term residents who were committed to our neighborhoods before it was popular. They believed they were putting down roots in neighborhoods where they could afford to live, work, and raise families.

“If we don’t amend LOOP to extend the property tax relief, over 4,800 homeowners will be kicked off after 2023. The average LOOP participant is a senior citizen on a fixed income who bought their house in the 1970s or 1980s. If a senior has family members staying with them as caretakers, any family member’s income count against LOOP eligibility, but if the homeowner has high medical bills or other expenses, LOOP does not account for it. They are already coping with dramatic changes in their neighborhood as they transition to later stages of life and are terrified of being hit with property tax bills they can’t afford when LOOP ends for them. They are already asking my office what they can do when property tax bills push them out of the homes they’ve lived in for decades,” said Councilman Johnson.

This amendment passed as the Kenney administration has proposed raising property taxes by 4.1 percent and the city has released 2019 property reassessments that show a 27 percent average increase in residential property values in the 2nd Council District.

“With this bill, virtually all homeowners currently enrolled could remain in the program. LOOP is at almost full enrollment, so the cost of the program will decline steadily as participants sell their homes, pass them along to family members, or otherwise lose eligibility. But, for now, we owe it to our long-term residents to help keep them inside their homes.”

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