Bill Would Ensure City Compliance With State Property Assessment Law
Philadelphia, June 15, 2017 – City Council on Thursday voted unanimously in support of a bill sponsored by Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) and Councilman Brian O’Neill (10th District) that compels the Office of Property Assessments to appropriately assess affordable, special needs, and senior housing in compliance with state law.
Bill No. 170564 requires the City of Philadelphia to consider rent restrictions and affordability requirements for properties that have received federal or state tax credits in order to offer affordable housing to people with limited incomes, such as seniors and the disabled.
Councilman O’Neill and Council President Clarke introduced the ordinance on May 25, 2017, to address an alarming number of affordable rental properties that were reassessed at rates higher than their true market value, despite federal and state rent restrictions that require their owners to provide housing to vulnerable Philadelphians often at substantially below-market rates.
“I represent several thousand low-income senior housing units whose owners are wondering why the City is sending them huge tax bills. Taking into consideration the service a property provides to the community, such as offering quality housing for senior citizens, is part of the deal we make with organizations that put people before profits,” Councilman O’Neill said. “The City of Philadelphia must keep up its end of that deal, or risk losing affordable housing for seniors, which is already in high demand. I will continue working with the Kenney Administration on this critical issue.”
Reassessments following implementation of the Actual Value Initiative in 2013 have led to dramatic tax increases for properties that were long under-assessed by the City. However, state law requires county assessment offices to take into consideration the impact of rent and income restrictions, usually associated with state or federal tax incentive programs, when establishing property values for tax purposes.
“This bill enshrines into The Philadelphia Code a state requirement that our City is failing to meet,” Council President Clarke said. “Organizations like Project HOME are our partners in fighting homelessness and creating opportunities for disadvantaged people. I am calling on OPA to modernize their systems so that they know which properties provide a benefit to our City, such as affordable housing for young adults transitioning out of foster care or LGBTQ young people, and ensure they are taxed differently than for-profit operators.”
The bill awaits Mayor Kenney’s signature.
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Council President Darrell L. Clarke is serving his second term as the President of Philadelphia City Council. He represents Philadelphia’s 5th Council District. More information at phlcouncil.com/DarrellClarke