PHILADELPHIA – At the final City Council meeting of 2022, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) to took bold steps to preserve and create affordable housing. This included receiving final approval for her “Public Land for Public Benefit” bill, which puts City-owned land in the community’s hands, and introducing the “People’s Preservation Package”. The People’s Preservation Package:
- Requires property owners to give notice of their intention to sell their affordable housing property to other affordable housing developers and community groups.
- Requires property owners give other affordable housing providers the opportunity to buy an expiring affordable housing development.
- Authorizes the City of Philadelphia to create a directory of all affordable housing properties in Philadelphia, their funding stream, and when their funding expires.
- Authorizes the Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless to conduct hearings regarding discrimination against households holding tenant-based vouchers.
“As rents and home values skyrocket, we need to take innovative and proactive steps to preserve and increase Philadelphia’s affordable housing stock,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. “When I assumed office, I pledged to empower long term residents to remain in the neighborhoods their families have called home for generations. Today, I am continuing to make good on that promise through my Public Land for Public Benefit ordinance and People’s Preservation Package.”
Councilmember Gauthier’s Public Land for Public Benefit legislation creates a pathway in the 3rd and 4th Councilmanic districts for community-controlled, permanently affordable housing and urban gardens on City-owned land. Community Land Trusts will receive additional scoring on unsolicited applications for City vacant land and can opt into a multi-year lease to allow more time for fundraising and community engagement while getting the land into community stewardship more quickly.
Philadelphia already lacks sufficient affordable housing, and this deficit threatens to grow dramatically in the coming years. Over 5,400 affordable housing units are at risk of disappearing in Philadelphia in the next five years. 900 of these are in the Third District alone. To prevent Philadelphia entering into an even more desperate affordable housing situation than it is already in, the City must take measures to preserve as much of the existing stock as possible. That’s why Councilmember Gauthier introduced her “People’s Preservation Package”.
The People’s Preservation Package gives the City and its affordable housing partners more tools to maintain as many existing affordable homes as possible. Compiling an official directory of Philadelphia’s government-financed affordable housing will allow the City to accurately monitor when and where these housing sites may disappear long before an owner sends official notice of their intent to sell. Requiring that other affordable housing providers receive notice of intention to sell as well maximizes the time they have to fundraise to buy a property and keep it affordable. Lastly, giving affordable housing providers the right to purchase an expiring affordable housing property for the best market offer maximizes the chances of keeping Philadelphians in their homes.
The People’s Preservation Package also authorizes the City Council to hold hearings on voucher discrimination. The Fair Practices Ordinance protects tenants from unfair rental practices by landlords and prohibits landlords from refusing to rent based on a tenant’s source of income, including tenant-based vouchers. However, more than 65% of Philadelphia landlords still refuse to accept tenant-based vouchers. The hearing will examine how source of income discrimination against households with tenant-based vouchers exacerbates the city’s affordability crisis.
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