Every Philadelphian Deserves a Safe, Affordable Home
When safe, affordable homes are available in all neighborhoods of Philadelphia, our city is stronger. But far too many residents cannot afford decent housing, and our aging housing stock is in desperate need of repair.
Rents are too high for low-wage population
Nearly 28 out of every 100 Philadelphians live in poverty, and median household income in Philadelphia ranks at the bottom of the largest U.S. cities. That means far too many Philadelphians cannot afford to pay the fair market rent for a typical apartment or rental home in Philadelphia. As a result, an estimated 186,000 renters are “cost-burdened,” meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. Over the course of a year, more than 12,000 Philadelphians are homeless and seek emergency housing, including families with children.
Homeownership out of reach for too many
Strong, stable neighborhoods require a mix of homeownership and rental housing. The percentage of Philadelphians that own their homes has dropped significantly since 1990 due to rising home prices. Low median household income in Philadelphia makes owning a home just out of reach for many low- to moderate-income residents, denying them to ability to build household wealth. And an estimated 131,000 homeowners are cost-burdened, paying an unaffordable percentage of their income on housing.
Additionally, as home prices began to rise in Philadelphia in 2013 after years of decline, low and moderate income Philadelphians are getting priced out of their own neighborhoods. Rising home prices also put pressure on long-time homeowners who face increases in property taxes that could cause them to become tax delinquent, or be forced to sell, unless provided with assistance.
Philadelphia’s aging housing stock needs repair
Much of Philadelphia’s housing stock was built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and in some neighborhoods, these aging homes are in significant states of disrepair. Low income residents who lack the financial resources to repair plumbing, electrical systems, heating systems, roofs and other structural problems live in sub-standard conditions that threaten their health and safety, as well as drag down the value of properties on the entire block.
What We’re Doing About It
PACDC members are on the ground in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods building rental housing for low income residents such as Nicetown CDC’s Nicetown Court I and II homeownership housing for low to moderate income residents such as Lawrence Court, developed by HACE, housing homeless veterans such as through Impact Service’s Hancock Manor, providing supportive services for people facing homelessness such as the work of Project HOME, and repairing homes for local residents.
PACDC is advocating for policies that make their work possible.
Expand the Housing Trust Fund
PACDC was successful in advocating for the creation of the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund in 2005, which has raised more than $83 million to expand and preserve housing for more than 8,500 lower-income families, three-quarters of which earned less than 30% of area median income. PACDC also holds a seat on the Housing Trust Fund Oversight Board, where we play a key role in the strategic direction of the Fund’s investment decisions. Now we’re pushing to fund the Pennsylvania Housing Trust Fund as well as the federal Housing Trust Fund so more critical housing dollars can flow to Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.
Adequately Fund Federal Housing Programs
PACDC is urging officials in Washington to adequately fund several key programs that are used locally to develop and repair affordable housing, and provide housing to people facing homelessness. Unfortunately, federal housing and community development programs have been cut by more than $50 million between 2007 and 2013, including funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the HOME program, Basic Systems Repair Section 202 (housing for seniors), and Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).
More City Investment in Housing
When the Mayor and City Council consider each year’s budget, PACDC urges for more support from the City’s General Fund for programs that build, rehabilitate and repair affordable housing options, as well as provide emergency and transitional housing support for those facing homelessness.
Provide Assistance to Low Income Homeowners
PACDC advocates for property tax relief measures for long-time owner occupants and low-income homeowners. In 2013, we successfully advocated in support of bills that allow qualifying homeowners to defer paying the increase in their property taxes until the sale or transfer of their home. We also supported an ordinance that would provide property tax exemptions to low-income long-term owner occupants whose property values tripled, which now requires state legislation in order to become effective.
How You Can Help
Tell Senators Casey and Toomey you support funding for housing and community development programs and to pass the T-HUD bill.
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