Philadelphia, June 17, 2021 – Today, amidst ongoing budget negotiations and a looming fiscal deadline, City Council unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large), asking voters to amend the City’s Home Rule Charter with a mandatory annual appropriation to the Housing Trust Fund, which will be on the November 2 general election ballot.
The Housing Trust Fund, the City’s primary financial vehicle for addressing affordable housing development and preservation – particularly for seniors and those living on a fixed income – would receive an earmark of at least one half of one percent (0.5%) of the total amount of General Fund dollars for the same fiscal year, estimated to start at about $26 million dollars in the first year. During a recession or other financial emergency, the Finance Director would be able to certify the redirection of these dollars for other purposes.
“This is critical legislation that comes at an extremely critical time in our city. We have witnessed the devastating role that a lack of accessible, affordable housing plays in the lives of many of our most vulnerable and at-risk citizens like our seniors and members of the Disability community, whom I hear from frequently about this disgraceful and embarrassing matter. Black and Brown communities have been historically marginalized and continue to be plagued by disproportionate rates of poverty, homelessness, illness, lack of education and economic opportunities,” said Councilmember Green, “which often culminate in the disturbingly high rates of violence that persist on our streets. Philadelphians are tired, they’re speaking up and it is my belief that their city is finally listening.”
The longstanding issue of affordable housing in Philadelphia was among the top priorities in this year’s budget process, following a number of citywide reforms to address systemic racism, inclusivity and equality that occurred in the wake last year’s brutal killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the ensuing racial reckoning that swept the nation. Public demands for more quality-of-life investments in underserved neighborhoods with regard to issues like accessible, affordable housing grew louder in subsequent weeks.
The Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP), a nonprofit organization and one of several community supporters of the legislation, weighed in on today’s vote.
“We applaud Councilmembers for their understanding of the affordable housing crisis in our city and for taking action by passing this legislation to create a dedicated source of funding that will make a real difference for thousands of Philadelphians who deserve an affordable place to call home,” said Nora Lichtash, WCRP’s Executive Director.