Clarke unveils plan for affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods

On 19th Street. Some residents worry Francisville's rise will price them out.

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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