March 30, 2016 |
THE CITY of Philadelphia's 10-year tax abatement on new construction has led to the gentrification of Philadelphia's most vulnerable communities. By giving huge breaks to those who build or refurbish housing, the tax abatement has increased property values in some of our poorest neighborhoods. Along the way, it has pushed out poor tenants through higher rents, and forced out impoverished homeowners through higher property taxes. And because 55 percent of Philadelphia property taxes go to schools, the tax abatement has also denied much-needed funding to a financially strapped School District filled with children of color.
March 17, 2016
ISSUE | SENIOR CITIZENS Longtime homeowners need city's help As a proud resident of City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson's Second District, one of the most rapidly gentrifying areas in Philadelphia, I delight every day in the new, charming restaurants and shops; our city is simply thriving. However, as a lawyer at SeniorLaw Center, a nonprofit organization serving low-income senior citizens in Philadelphia ( www.seniorlawcenter.org ), I witness daily the negative effects of gentrification ("Help keep longtime Phila.
March 5, 2016
One by one, the totems of poverty that once dotted Philadelphia's urban landscape have been disappearing. Since the late '90s, the Philadelphia Housing Authority has imploded 23 public housing towers and replaced them with traditional rowhouses. On March 19, two more of those alien towers, the Norman Blumberg Apartments, will be reduced to dust in the North Philadelphia neighborhood the PHA has dubbed Sharswood. This time, however, the housing authority's ambitions are much bigger than usual.
December 6, 2015 |
A thousand years ago, 1978 to be exact, I traded a suburban apartment complex we called "Plywood Village" for a first-floor apartment in a rehabbed 19th-century hotel in Hartford, Conn., a few blocks from the state Capitol. I'm not sure who had been living in the Hotel Capitol before the rehab, but they likely were not well-to-do. I later completed a demographic study of the building on the way to a doctorate in history I was working toward but didn't finish because I moved to Philadelphia.
August 8, 2015 |
In most Philadelphia neighborhoods, two recent zoning cases would have been treated as routine proposals. One called for 22 rowhouses to rise from the rubble of a crumbling factory. The other sought permission to turn a trash-strewn lot into a summertime beer garden. But in Point Breeze, a zoning case is never just about zoning. And so the two proposals followed the usual script. There were angry meetings where the projects were denounced as accelerators of gentrification, and their developers vilified for "not giving back" to the community.
July 6, 2015 |
There may be no way to hold back the tide of gentrification in such neighborhoods as Fishtown, but Sandy Salzman is trying to find ways to keep it from washing away moderate-income residents. Salzman is executive director of New Kensington Community Development Corp., and the Awesometown townhouse project is its first foray into mixed affordable housing: 10 units selling at the market rate of about $400,000, and four subsidized by NKCDC to sell for half that, with the "winners" picked by lottery.
May 4, 2015 |
As neighbors filled the church pews and lined the aisles, they were warned: Don't talk about your property taxes tonight. But some feared the project on the table - 22 single-family houses spanning half a block of Point Breeze - would price them out of their homes. And the man at the front of the room, developer-turned-candidate Ori Feibush, seemed to only add to the anxiety. In minutes, people were shouting over the pews. "I would love change. But we want affordable change," a woman yelled into the microphone as others waited to speak.
April 23, 2015 |
At Front and Tasker sits the garage of Billy Ski and Fred O'Rourke. Lifelong friends, they are a couple of roofers in their 50s who spend most of their free time in the garage with a pit mix named Widdy - "like the dartboard," Billy explained - fixing up their antique cars. Like Billy's beautiful 1963 candy-apple Chevy Nova. If gentrification abounds in the neighborhood in the form of pricey new townhouses, it ends at Billy and Fred's metal gate. The garage is private. Strictly friends and family.
October 29, 2014 |
UP AND DOWN the 1500 block of North Dover Street, handwritten notes on yellow legal-size sheets of paper were tucked inside the storm doors of every house. "My name is Danielle . . . My husband is Kyle," the notes began. "We would like to buy your house. Please call or text me at (516) . . . " It then gives a number for the couple in Long Island, N.Y. Miss D, who lives in the middle of this tidy block of brick rowhouses - just east of 29th Street between Jefferson and Oxford - shows the note at her front door.
October 27, 2014 |
On Point Drive at the tip of Longport, where houses were cracked open two years ago by Hurricane Sandy's waves and wind, their multimillion-dollar vulnerability bared to the sea, all is as it was. The Hankins finished a total rebuild. The Tuchmans debated selling, but decided to do the repairs and keep their summer home after all. Marvin Ashner, who never left, not even during the storm, still answers his door beneath whimsical Blues Brothers statues. "Everybody's back," said Steven Hankin, an Atlantic City lawyer who lives on Point Drive, which overlooks the inlet's washing machine currents.