Philadelphia, May 27, 2021 – Today, Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large) introduced legislation to amend the City’s Home Rule Charter, allowing for a mandatory annual appropriation of the City’s budget to go to the Housing Trust Fund, which if passed by two-thirds of Council and approved by Philadelphia voters, would create a mandatory appropriation every year from the City’s budget to the Housing Trust Fund.
The Housing Trust Fund, which serves as the City’s primary financial vehicle for addressing affordable housing development and preservation, 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 that need to allow Council to redirect the money to other purposes.
As Philadelphia moves forward, engaging in long overdue conversations about systemic racism and exploring different, more innovative and diverse ways of funding daily operations that will yield equitable benefits for its citizens – the issue of affordable housing is a significant part of that dialogue. After last summer’s racial reckoning and protests that followed the brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the public demand for greater prioritization of funding for affordable housing in Philadelphia – particularly in the most underserved neighborhoods – reached a fever pitch and culminated in a months-long encampment on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
“Historically, the City has not done nearly enough to address the need for more livable, accessible, affordable housing for those most at risk of homelessness,” said Councilmember Green. “Far too frequently, I hear from members of the disability community about how difficult it is to find housing that is suitable and quite frankly, it’s an embarrassment. The Kenney administration must fulfill its promise to consistently provide more resources to the Housing Trust Fund. We must be bolder in our thinking and actions now that we are finally beginning to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot afford to squander this opportunity to reset and create equitable systemic change for all Philadelphians, now and into the future.”
The legislation, co-sponsored by eight members of Council, has also garnered the attention and support of the nonprofit organization, Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP).
“The pandemic underscored the urgent and growing need for affordable housing in Philadelphia. Councilmember Green’s legislation ensures that the Housing Trust Fund will receive the dollars it needs annually to provide new resources for thousands of Philadelphians to repair their homes, find rental homes they can afford or for those at risk of homelessness to be able to stay in their homes,” said WCRP executive director Nora Lichtash. “We commend Councilmember Green for taking action to provide for a mandatory annual appropriation to the Housing Trust Fund and we encourage all City Councilmembers to support this legislation.”
If passed in June, the Charter Change will appear as a ballot question in the general election on November 2, 2021.
Read the legislation: