But the rally's sponsor - the Philadelphia Campaign for Housing Justice - said that's too high a range. The coalition argued that the people with the strongest need for more affordable housing earn far less.
"This bill would exclude 70 percent of the residents of the city," said Hemmingway, standing on stage in Dilworth Plaza. "That's a problem."
Philadelphia is experiencing one of its longest housing booms in decades. But most of the activity is for higher-end luxury housing around the city's core.
As recent numbers from the U.S. Census show, Philadelphia is one of the poorest big cities in the nation, with about one in four families living below the poverty rate.
Clarke said in a phone interview that the income levels are not set in stone and could be adjusted downward.
But he added that it would not be "realistic" to set aside housing only for individuals earning less than 50 percent of the median income.
"I don't think it would get the necessary support of all the parties involved," Clarke said.
"Although I understand that we have a very needy population, that's why we created the Housing Trust Fund," a city initiative to fund low-income housing, Clarke said. The fund, he added, has about $18 million to spend on housing projects for the poor.
At the rally, some volunteers for the housing coalition wore cardboard boxes made to look like houses. The group introduced its own plan to ensure that each new housing project included a portion of affordable housing - an idea that's been picked up in 300 municipalities across the country, including Washington, New York and Boston.
The alternate bill, which would cover only projects with more than eight units, would give developers three options:
Set aside 10 percent of the units of a project to rent or sell to families earning less than 50 percent of the area's median income, or $36,050 for a family of four.
Or build double the number of new units to set aside for those poorer families, but somewhere else in the city.
Or pay into a housing fund to support affordable housing, at a rate of $20,000 for each unit of new housing (less for townhouse developments).
Developers, in turn, would get incentives for meeting those demands, such as allowances to build more dense projects; waivers on requirements to provide parking; or expedited service in the permitting process.
Nora Lichtash, executive director of the Women's Community Revitalization Project, said if the alternate plan was adopted, it could ensure the addition of 200 to 250 units of low-income housing a year.
Responding to the coalition's proposal, William Reddish 3d, president of the Building Industry Association, said inclusionary housing was "a good objective."
But he said that the only way to truly "fix" the city's housing problem was to build the city's tax base by attracting and keeping more middle-class families.
He said new-home construction in Philadelphia has focused on either end of the income spectrum - luxury units and subsidized lower-income houses - with less attention to those in the middle, who could pay $125,000 to $250,000 for a new house.
The middle market "is leaving the city in droves," Reddish said. "And as a result, the city is losing a tax base that it will find very, very difficult to recover from."
Reddish supports the Clarke bill.
"Unless we address that market specifically and help to get a city surplus, there will never be enough money available to meet the housing needs that the other group is fighting for," he said.
Contact staff writer Jennifer Lin at 215-854-5659 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Housing Plans
Proposal by Councilman Darrell Clarke:
Targets resources for families earning 80 to 150 percent of area median income - $57,700 to $108,188 for a family of four.
Provides for an in-lieu fund but leaves the dollar amount per project to the discretion of City Council; does not articulate permissible uses.
Does not include developer incentives.
Units remain affordable for 10 years.
Applies to developments of 20 or more units.
No specific enforcement or oversight board for accountability.
Proposal by Philadelphia Campaign for Housing Justice
Targets resources for families earning less than 50 percent of area median income - $36,050 for a family of four.
Provides for an in-lieu fund, specifies the amount the developer must pay into the fund, and specifies permissible uses of the fund, which would include: basic-systems home-repair grants, homelessness prevention, development of affordable rental and ownership units, rehabilitation of vacant housing.
Provides developer incentives.
Affordable units are to remain affordable forever.
Plan applies to developments of eight or more units.
An 11-member oversight board would monitor compliance with the bill.
SOURCE: Philadelphia Campaign for Housing Justice