PHILADELPHIA, October 29, 2021 – As the November 2 general election looms, stakeholders and advocates for affordable housing accessibility and preservation are reminding people why they not only need to get out to vote this Tuesday, but also why they must vote in favor of a mandatory annual appropriation of the City’s General Fund dollars to go to the Housing Trust Fund – as will be stated in Ballot Question #4. Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large) sponsored the legislation to propose the funding allocation due to a lack of urgency and sufficient action by the Kenney Administration, in addition to decades of disinvestment at the state and federal levels to address the need for decent accessible, affordable housing in Philadelphia.
As outlined in a recent op-ed published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, many residents, including seniors and people with disabilities who have endured threats to their health and well-being, along with significant financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, will soon face more risks as this year’s budget includes minimal resources from the City’s General Fund for the creation and preservation of affordable homes through the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) — which is responsible for financing programs that aid at-risk renters, providing grants to make home repairs or accessibility improvements for residents with disabilities, and supporting the creation and preservation of affordable homes.
The objective of the legislation is to amend the City’s Home Rule Charter to implement a mandatory, annual appropriation of at least 0.5 percent of the General Fund to the HTF, which would translate to approximately $26 million for Fiscal Year 2023 for the HTF based on this year’s $5.2 billion budget.
“Affordable housing access has been a chronically extended issue in our City and has only become worse as Philadelphia’s poverty rate remains among the highest of the nation’s largest cities,” said Councilmember Green. “The impacts of the COVID-19 public health crisis have reverberated throughout our economy, including the housing market, and various uncertainties remain about how to cover costs like childcare and what day-to-day school operations look like. As a result, many people have been forced to remain home, pause their job searches, or possibly take significant pay cuts, which creates a hardship with respect to making their rent and mortgage payments. In turn, this further exacerbates homelessness and eviction rates. An equitable economic reset post-COVID-19 begins with ensuring that people’s basic needs, like housing security, are being met. It starts with a ‘Yes’ vote from voters this Tuesday.