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City Council last week announced a comprehensive strategy using data analysis, mapping technology and community engagement to empower Philadelphia’s leaders to craft policies that will improve the quality of life in each of the City’s neighborhoods. The Community Sustainability Initiative (CSI) is a challenge to residents, businesses, institutions and government to make every Philadelphia neighborhood a Community of Choice.
“We cannot declare Philadelphia to be the great city we know it can be until we implement a strategy for every one of our neighborhoods, particularly those in desperate need of investment and revitalization,” Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. “My colleagues in City Council believe every neighborhood in Philadelphia can become a Community of Choice. City Council is not just measuring the health of our neighborhoods – we are establishing goals for where our neighborhoods ought to be. More strategically guided investments will ultimately save taxpayer dollars and promote equity across the city.”
In collaboration with public policy consultants The Reinvestment Fund, and Econsult Solutions, City Council has compiled data on quality of life indicators across the city. The CSI establishes seven core measurements for the following areas:
• Housing Demand: Median sales price, building permits, residential sales price
• Housing Distress: Act 91 notices, foreclosure filings
• Crime & Safety: rate, 311 report rate, % vacant buildings, % vacant lots
• Education: Great Philly Schools quality rating, crime within ¼ mile of school
• Amenities: Distance to nearest library, bank, recreation center
• Prosperity: % cost burdened, median household income, % owner occupied
• Commerce: Availability and diversity of food establishments, retail and personal service options
Used in conjunction with mapping technology, this data will demonstrate the health of neighborhoods based on these consensus quality of life indicators. More significantly, the data will speak for underserved communities that have not been able to advocate more successfully for themselves.
The data collection will be refined and complemented by community input, which City Council will solicit via neighborhood outreach in coming months.
“The primary purpose of using data and technology in this way is to statistically gauge what makes Philadelphia’s neighborhoods attractive places to live,” said Ira Goldstein, president of Policy Solutions with The Reinvestment Fund. “Working with real-time information, policy-makers can focus decisions on how to revitalize declining neighborhoods while reinforcing already strong neighborhoods.”
Said City Councilwoman Marion Tasco (9th District): “This is about reinforcing neighborhoods that are already strong, and revitalizing neighborhoods that need a boost. One neighborhood that is losing population and falling into disrepair is one too many. City Council will use the CSI to troubleshoot where needed and intervene before trouble finds a long-term home. The CSI is about more efficient and effective delivery of public services, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this great project.”