Philadelphia City Councilman calls for more affordable housing

municipal advertising darrell clarke
City Council President Darrell Clarke (Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro).

City Council President Darrell Clarke has a plan to add more affordable housing inside rapidly changing neighborhoods in parts of North and South Philadelphia.

According to his plan, the city could add 1,500 properties — 1,000 for rent and 500 for sale — through a combination of funding resources and trades of city-owned land.

To build the 1,000 rental units, the city would spend $300 million, borrow $100 million and take $200 million in state and federal funding.

For the 500 units for sale, the city plans to sell to developers city-owned properties in areas such as Point Breeze, Mantua and Francisville.

The developers would build the houses, then sell them to low-income residents. However, the sale is predicated upon a few important details: the resident would make the house their primary residence for at least 10 years, and the house can’t be resold for more than its original sale price.

The prospective homeowners would also have to afford a $200,000 mortgage.

Out of the city’s roughly 1.5 million residents, about 450,000 live at or below the poverty line. Clark said more than 100,000 are on an affordable-housing waiting list.

The plan still has major hurdles, namely approval from Mayor Michael Nutter and commitment from the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

In a statement, Mark McDonald, Nutter’s spokesman, said the administration “Looks forward to a briefing by the Council President where he can explain his proposal.”

“We are particularly interested in how this proposal meshes with the Philadelphia Housing Authority program that kicked off in May 2013 to form development partnerships to create and preserve 6,000 affordable housing units in the next five years, using many of the same techniques described by Clarke,” McDonald said. “The PHA program was endorsed by the Mayor last year.”

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