In Cherelle Parker, Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, Featured, Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, News by admin

PHILADELPHIA, PA – City Councilmembers and other city officials today joined residents outside a Northwest Philadelphia store to highlight next steps in the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative, a $400 Million plan for massive, citywide investments in affordable housing production, home repairs, small business revitalization and neighborhood preservation.

The Neighborhood Preservation Initiative (NPI) was approved in concept by City Council last year, along with financing to pay for it. Today, Council leaders announced next steps for NPI – legislation to be introduced Friday in Council outlining spending in an array of programs that will benefit Philadelphia residents and neighborhoods. Those programs to be supported by NPI include:

  • Affordable Housing Production ($113 Million)
  • Preservation of Affordable Housing ($64.6 Million)
  • Support for First-time Home Buyers ($58 Million)
  • Basic Systems Repairs to Existing Homes ($38 Million)
  • Infrastructure Improvements in Neighborhoods ($26.6 Million)
  • Permanent Housing for Homeless ($15.2 Million)
  • Neighborhood Small Business Support & Revitalization ($15.2 Million)

NPI’s four-year budget also includes funding for Shallow Rent Assistance ($15.2 Million), Eviction Prevention ($11.4 Million), and Tangled Title support ($7.6 Million.)

“This is going to be the largest, single investment in Philadelphia neighborhoods in city history,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), who conceived of NPI along with his leadership team on City Council. “For decades, neighborhoods like Juniata Park, West Oak Lane, Wynnefield and others didn’t need much support, as they were relatively stable. But a variety of economic factors have caused decline in our neighborhoods – and they need the city’s help and support. That’s what NPI is designed to do. This will be a much needed shot-in-the-arm for Philly neighborhoods.”

The Council leaders and city officials gathered today outside Gilben’s Bakery and Specialty Sandwich Shop on Stenton Avenue in West Oak Lane. Gilben’s, owned and operated by Crystal Bradley, has received commercial corridor revitalization and support from city commerce officials – exactly the kind of support planned for under NPI.

“Thanks to the city, our storefront and sidewalk are clean and orderly, and our signage is attractive to our customers,” Ms. Bradley said. “It makes them feel comfortable to come and shop here. I’m very glad to hear the city plans to invest in commercial corridor revitalization all across Philadelphia.”

Ms. Bradley was joined at the news conference by Councilmembers Cherelle L. Parker (9th District), Council’s majority leader, and Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez (7th District), Council’s Appropriations Committee chair – two champions on Council of neighborhood economic development.

“We can’t sit by idly and wait for someone to come to our rescue; we must be proactive,” said Majority Leader Parker, whose district includes the Gilben’s sandwich shop. “NPI will spend close to a half billion dollars that will impact the lives of our most vulnerable residents who have been hurt most directly by the coronavirus. It will help those in poverty, prevent those living on the margins from falling further behind, create sustainable jobs and assist small businesses – which need help the most right now.”

“City Council has developed a better New Normal and will aggressively invest in neighborhoods and our residents to ensure real inclusion and equity in our recovery and our growth,” said Quiñones Sánchez. “The Census data highlighted what Council has always understood — neighborhood development is key to ensuring diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods and a better, more equitable Philadelphia.”

Also at today’s news conference were Maria N. Gonzalez, President of HACE, a community economic development organization, David S. Thomas, CEO of Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, and other community leaders and residents.

“Philadelphia has a large portion of homeowners, many of which live in older homes,” said David Thomas of PHDC. “PHDC’s Basic System Repair Program and Adaptive Modification Program (AMP) are vital in keeping persons in their homes. NPI funding will be instrumental in helping thousands of homeowners in Philadelphia make necessary improvements and modifications to their home, preventing homelessness and unwanted moving expenses.”

Other city programs to be funded by NPI include initiatives that help with eviction diversion, rental assistance, first-time home buyers, and affordable housing development and preservation, and the city’s top planning official spoke on how important NPI will be to these critical efforts to help Philadelphians.

“The City’s Eviction Diversion Program, Rental Assistance, Philly First Home and other affordable housing and community development programs are in great need of additional funding,” said Anne Fadullon, Director of the City’s Department of Planning and Development. “The NPI funding will help us save more persons from eviction, help people realize the dream of homeownership, and get funding to developers that want to build affordable housing. This is an important initiative, and I am looking forward to getting this funding out the door to improve the lives of Philadelphia residents.”

The funding mechanisms for NPI include several city bond issuances, which in turn will be paid back from a 1 percent Development Impact Tax on residential construction approved by Council and Mayor Kenney last year, and a reduction in the real estate tax abatement for commercial construction by 10 percent.

The NPI program is also expected to catalyze a larger burst of economic activity — $2.5 billion-worth – and produce $71 Million in new tax revenues over the first 4 years. It is estimated that it will support over 14,700 jobs with $765 Million in wages.

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