ABOVE PHOTO: Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez speaks at the podium on the housing trust fund as Councilmembers Mark Squilla (l) and City Council President Darrell Clarke (r) look on.
City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez (7th District), and Councilmember Mark Squilla (1st District) on Thursday issued the following statement on the Putting Philadelphians First affordable housing plan:
“After years of working with affordable housing advocates, community development groups, and leaders of the development community, we have secured today a commitment from the Kenney Administration to increase revenues to the Housing Trust Fund by more than $70 million through Fiscal Year 2023.
This is a win, and it is also a beginning. The legislative package we introduced earlier this year, which included a 1 percent tax on new abatement-eligible construction that Mayor Kenney planned to veto, would have raised $115 million over the next five years. Today we have an agreement for an increase of more than $70 million over the next five years to support equitable neighborhood development, more aggressively reduce wait lists for home preservation assistance, increase affordable housing stock, and expand homeownership assistance. This is a floor, not a ceiling – and we are just getting started.
We are still of the belief that the most equitable way to fund these essential programs is by having the development and real estate sectors at the table and with skin in the game. We thank the Building Industry Association for their early support of Putting Philadelphians First, and will continue to work with industry leaders toward fair and equitable solutions.
“By making this initial commitment, Mayor Kenney acknowledges that the need for safe, healthy, and affordable housing is great, in part because the poverty rate in Philadelphia remains stubbornly high. A new report today shows that incomes in Philadelphia are falling. Council does not have authority over wages under Commonwealth statute, but we have the ability and therefore responsibility to expand housing opportunities. We will continue to work toward making every neighborhood in Philadelphia a community of choice by building a strong, equitable future for our City.”
Councilmember Squilla last week introduced an appropriations ordinance memorializing the agreement with the Kenney Administration, sponsored by Council President Clarke and Councilmembers Sánchez, Blondell Reynolds Brown (At-Large), Bill Greenlee (At-Large), Helen Gym (At-Large), Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), and Cherelle Parker (9th District).