In Council News, Jamie Gauthier, News by Jamie Gauthier

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PHILADELPHIAToday, City Council granted final approval to Councilmember Jamie Gauthier’s (3rd District) “People’s Preservation Package” (bill numbers 221017 and 221018). It now heads to Mayor Kenney’s desk before becoming law.

The People’s Preservation Package gives the City and affordable housing providers additional tools to preserve government-subsidized affordable housing, without disrupting the market.

The legislation approved by City Council:

  • Expands whom affordable housing property owners must notify when they intend to end affordability.
  • Gives tenant organizations, the City, and affordable housing providers 45 days to make a purchase offer before the property can be publicly marketed for sale.
  • Gives tenant organizations, the City, and affordable housing providers the opportunity to match a market-rate offer, for the purpose of keeping a site affordable.
  • Enables the City to maintain a directory of affordable housing properties and track affordability expiration dates.

More than 12,000 affordable housing units are at risk of going offline in the next decade. To prevent Philadelphia from entering an even more desperate housing affordability crisis than it is already in, the City must take a bolder and more proactive approach to affordable housing preservation.

“The City needs to arm itself to combat looming affordable housing opt-outs,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. “The People’s Preservation Package empowers the City and its partners to keep vulnerable families in their homes. I thank my City Council colleagues for recognizing the urgency of preserving affordable housing!”

The tools in the People’s Preservation Package are based on best practices from municipalities like Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C., which have all successfully preserved affordable housing developments using similar tools. The package also received substantial input from affordable housing stakeholders here in Philadelphia.

Giving the City and its partners the right of first offer and the right to a “matched agreement of sale” creates two opportunities for affordable housing developments to remain affordable without placing an undue burden on the owner. Expanding notice requirements ensures tenants, the City, and the community have time to prepare for an impending expiration, increasing the likelihood of preservation. A citywide directory of affordable housing developments is necessary to prepare a comprehensive plan to preserve affordable housing.

Affordability opt-outs primarily occur in communities with proximity to robust amenities and opportunities. Expiration is a dehumanizing – and in many cases a life-threatening – process for tenants. Affordable housing developments become communities unto themselves, an oasis in rapidly changing neighborhoods that remain safe for the most vulnerable neighbors. When they disappear from a neighborhood, their former tenants tend to as well.

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