Saturday, February 28, 2015

Clarke unveils plan for affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods

This post has been updated.

Clarke unveils plan for affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods

On 19th Street. Some residents worry Francisville´s rise will price them out.
On 19th Street. Some residents worry Francisville's rise will price them out. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer

This post has been updated.

Council President Darrell Clarke today unveiled a plan to build 1,500 affordable housing units in gentrifying neighborhoods like Francisville, Point Breeze and Mantua by redeveloping city-owned vacant land or tax-delinquent properties.

One thousand of the units will be rentals and would take advantage of two underused financing tools, Clarke said: operational subsidies for affordable housing from the Philadelphia Housing Authority and a tax credit from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

The city would also need to issue a $100 million bond to be paid for by the Housing Trust Fund, which currently supports other programs. 

For the other 500 units, which are targeted for home ownership, the city would sell the properties to developers who would build on and resell the properties under the terms of a covenante that would last at least 10 years. The property would have to be the owner’s primary residence for the duration of the covenant and could not be resold for more than a specified amount during that period.

Clarke said that he consulted with the housing authority, but not the Mayor’s Office, in developing the program.

Mayor Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, said the administration look forward to being briefed on the proposal and how it will interact with PHA's ongoing "6 in 5" plan to build or retain 6,000 units over the next five years.

A PHA spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s unclear how, or if, the proposal will interact with the new land bank, which was passed into law in December in an effort to redevelop city-owned vacant land and is being organized now.

Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, who championed that legislation, said Clarke's proposal will help to set clear goals and leverage resources for affordable housing development. 

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William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to
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