In Council News, Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks, News, Nicolas O'Rourke, Quetcy Lozada, Rue Landau by Jamie Gauthier

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“More than a decade ago advocates banded together with a common goal: to transform vacant properties plaguing our neighborhoods into essential resources for equitable revitalization. Making this vision a reality necessitated creating a transparent, predictable, accountable, responsive, and representative Land Bank. Ten years later we have a Land Bank, but much work remains to make it the Land Bank our communities demanded and deserve.  

Our city is at an inflection point: there is an overwhelming need for genuinely affordable homes while we are also hemorrhaging low-income units. Meeting this moment demands that we return to the fundamental principle that vacant property is one of the most critical and finite resources the City has to build a more equitable Philadelphia. Stakeholders must once again come together to breathe new life into the Land Bank by re-aligning it with its founding principles.

“To achieve this the Land Bank must:

  • Be a reliable partner for community organizations and residents seeking to make meaningful change in their neighborhoods.
  • Be responsive in its interactions, predictable in its processes, transparent in its decision-making, and accountable for its outcomes.
  • Be proactive in evaluating how the public inventory of vacant property can intersect with other privately held vacant property to create opportunities for transformative community beneficial development.
  • Proceed from an understanding that preserving cultural and economic stability in changing neighborhoods means prioritizing accessible and affordable housing development for existing neighborhood residents. In communities where market-rate housing development on privately held land continues unabated, publicly-held land represents one of the few options for maintaining affordability.

“The Land Bank must also streamline the application process and dedicate staff to preserving unsecured community gardens and creating new open spaces. Urban farms and gardens empower neighbors to own and access land that benefits their lives every day. The stewards of these spaces deserve the same level of transparency and responsiveness from the Land Bank that development applications receive.

“That is why today advocates, community organizations, and elected officials call on the Land Bank to:

  1. Enhance staffing to improve response times and effective application review.
  2. View nonprofits and community-based applicants as partners and work with them to “get to yes.”
  3. Eliminate barriers to process efficiency.
  4. Improve transparency and accountability.
  5. Update the Land Bank’s strategic plan and disposition and acquisition policies to better balance dispositions across a range of development and community-driven productive uses, including prioritizing accessible and deeply affordable homes for low-income residents in transitioning neighborhoods.

“City Council will hold hearings on the Philadelphia Land Bank to provide an opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders to propose changes. We look forward to working with Mayor Parker and City Council to build the Land Bank that Philadelphians need now more than ever.”

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This statement is attributable to:

  • Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Chair of City Council’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless
  • Councilmember Rue Landau (At-Large), Vice Chair of City Council’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless
  • Councilmember Quetcy Lozada (7th District), Chair of City Council’s Committee on Public Property and Public Works
  • Councilmember Jeffery Young Jr. (5th District)
  • Minority Leader Kendra Brooks (At-Large)
  • Minority Whip Nicolas O’Rourke (At-Large)
  • Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations
  • Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Philadelphia
  • Regional Housing Legal Services
  • Ceiba – Latino Equitable Development Collective
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