Low-income rentals and buys comes closer to realization

Posted: June 06, 2014

MANTUA, Brewerytown, Point Breeze and Grays Ferry are closer to getting new affordable-housing projects after a series of bills passed through a City Council committee yesterday.

City Council President Darrell Clarke's favored "Affordable Housing Units Initiative," knocked by critics as akin to Section 8 housing, passed favorably out of the Committee of the Whole, and today goes before the full Council for first reading.

Proponents including Beth McConnell, policy director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, say this is the perfect time for the city's land bank to start playing an active role.

"The land bank will develop a strategic plan this summer that will identify opportunities for affordable homes, market rate and community green space," she said.

Clarke said the city is not taking advantage of unspent federal and state grants that can be applied to low-income areas. He wants to leverage these "Affordable Housing Opportunity Zones" with neighborhoods that are gentrifying and where home values are rapidly increasing.

"The actual plan calls for a balanced approach," Clarke said.

"Not only including affordable housing of the rental type . . . but it also calls for a significant amount of workforce housing, and the balance of those properties will be offered at market value. So it's a balanced approach to developing these neighborhoods."

The legislation mentions past economic struggles and the high demand for affordable housing in some of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. The initiative proposes building 1,000 units for rent and 500 units to own for moderate-to-low-income households.

According to Clarke's office, the measure would generate $681.8 million in economic activity and would create 4,248 jobs.

The bills, one for each neighborhood, are slated to go before the full Council today.


On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH

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