City Council committee advances affordable housing legislation — again

The body has been trying for more than a year to find a way to keep low-income homeowners in changing neighborhoods.

Pat Loeb
September 26, 2018 - 7:18 pm
Philadelphia City Hall

Courtesy of Paul Gluck

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A City Council committee has approved new affordable housing legislation, this time with no new taxes. 

Council has been trying for more than a year to create a way to keep low-income homeowners in neighborhoods that are changing, either through neglect or the opposite: gentrification. 

In June, it passed a bill to create a new fund by imposing a 1 percent construction tax. Mayor Jim Kenney, worried that was too business unfriendly, proposed redoing the bills, this time using existing revenue for the fund, prompting this exchange between Councilman Allan Domb and Finance Director Rob Dubow:

"How did the city find $52 million?" asked Domb.

"What's interesting is that whenever we proposed a new tax, people say, 'Why don't you find money within your budget?' and now that we found money within our budget, the question is, 'How did you find money within your budget?' " countered Dubow.

As with the original bills, activists say not enough of the money is going to the very poor, meaning those at 30 percent of the poverty level. Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez said they are still a priority but the new fund is meant to find new solutions.

"We should be flexible enough to create other tools," she added.

The bill now goes to the full council.