A Philadelphia Bill Proposing the Development of Affordable Housing Put on Hold


Marie Quiñones-Sánchez, who is a Philadelphia City Councilwoman, recently accepted to postpone a bill that authorized the establishment of low-cost houses in the city. This is after there were some disagreements among neighborhood organizations, housing advocates, and contractors over how to construct affordable housing that could be used the average and low-income earners in the city. According to Quiñones-Sánchez, the interested parties required some extra time. She plans to spend an entire week discussing with all sides so that the bill can be ready for voting by 5th December.

The drafted bill proposed that the developers would be offered permission to establish big structures and set aside 10 percent of the spaces for Philadelphia residents whose income is below $41,000, which is the median. Various neighborhood groups disagreed by claiming that this would affect the usual low-rise rowhouse areas. Through the Building Industry Association, the investors raised their concern stating that the additional expenses of establishing subsidized houses would lead to losses. According to Carl Dranoff, who is a developer, the current bill places a burden on a section of the real estate investors. The Center City developers would be disadvantaged.

The Planning Commission analyzed the bill and concluded that it was not ready to be passed. It even advised its sponsors who included Jannie Blackwell, Darrell Clarke, Kenyatta Johnson, and Marie Quiñones-Sánchez. According to Philadelphia’s director of planning and development, it would be necessary to revise the bill for it to be economically viable. The law has faced some opposition, but many people in Philadelphia believe that the city requires affordable housing. Areas such as Point Breeze and Fishtown were affordable to low income earners in the past but there prices have doubled and even tripled in some parts. This has led to displacement of individuals who are unable to afford.

Despite the rise in the cost of homes in Philadelphia, it is still considered to have one of the cheapest rents compared to big cities across the state. It has become hard for some low-income individuals to live in their old neighborhoods, which are currently transforming. The bill proposed the used of a form of housing set-aside that is called as “inclusionary zoning.” This has been effective in the provision of affordable housing in expensive cities such as New York, Boston, and San Francisco. Various housing advocated have also proposed that developers should contribute to the Housing Trust Fund to facilitate the old houses in Philadelphia instead of inclusionary zoning. Quiñones-Sánchez will negotiate with the involved parties to get a solution.