Tax on new construction advances despite Kenney concerns, scorching criticism from building trades

June 6th, 2018 | The Philadelphia Inquirer

By Julia Terruso

A tax on new construction to fund affordable housing moved one step closer to passage Wednesday despite pressure from the city’s building trades to abandon the plan, concerns from the Kenney administration about its effect on businesses, and criticism from housing advocates who said the levy could end up benefiting wealthier Philadelphians.

The 1 percent tax, which would be placed on most new construction, could raise up to $19 million a year for affordable housing at a time when the city is experiencing a dire shortage, proponents of the bill said.

“We think this is going to give a significant boost to our entire city, not just Center City, where the market is going through the roof,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. “I think it’s an awesome program. It’s Philly-first. While we’re excited about new people in the city, at some point we have to address the needs of people who are here.”

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The Importance (and Neglect) of America’s ‘Middle Neighborhoods’

June 2018 | Governing Magazine

By Alan Greenblatt

Gregory James bought his house way back in 1972. As he looks around at the stone-fronted rowhouses that line either side of his street in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, he considers himself a relative newcomer. Out of 72 houses on the block, he counts 15 that are still occupied by the families who were already residing there when James arrived. Back in the 1970s, this part of Philadelphia was a choice neighborhood for middle-class blacks who were able to move themselves out of rougher parts of town.

Now the homes in Mt. Airy are aging, and so is the infrastructure around them. The houses may be structurally sound, but not enough attention is being paid to the condition of things like driveways, curbs and retaining walls. James complains that the city itself sometimes ignores his community. There are certainly neighborhoods that are worse off, but you don’t have to travel far to find others where services such as trash pickup are noticeably better. “When you go further north, it’s better, and when you go south, it’s worse,” says James. “If you stay here, you’re caught in the middle.”

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Dwight Evans seeks second term in Congress

April 27th, 2018 | The Philadelphia Tribune

By Michael D’Onofrio

Incumbent Dwight Evans said he will rely on a his political record and experience as a longtime politician against a political newcomer in the upcoming Democratic primary.

“Who is most effective and who will get things done?” Evans asked during a recent Philadelphia Tribune editorial board meeting. “I provide the kind of leadership that is necessary to address the issues.”

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McClinton wants gun violence declared a public health crisis

April 25th, 2018 | The Philadelphia Tribune

By Stacy Brown

During a series of hearings on gun violence before the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-191), highlighted what she called the disparity in coverage of gun violence between low-income communities of color and more affluent majority-white communities.

“While it took tragedies like the Parkland [Fla. high school] and Las Vegas shootings to gather us here, I would like to remind everyone that communities of color in Philadelphia, Delaware, Berks, Dauphin, Cambria and Allegheny counties have been victims of gun violence for decades,” McClinton said during her testimony.

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Saying Housing Drives Income Inequality Misses Some Big Points

By

Studies over time have examined connections between income inequality and housing. As Richard Florida, a senior editor at The Atlantic and University Professor and Director of Cities at the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute argued, “a mounting body of research suggests that housing inequality may well be the biggest contributor to our economic divides.”

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Community Leaders Aim To Make Chatham A Shopping Destination

January 31, 2018 | CBS Chicago

By Chatham, Local TV, Roseanne Tellez

Chatham, a South Side community often in the headlines for the wrong reasons, is looking to change that perception. Leaders want to put Chatham on the map for shopping. So, business owners and community leaders are launching a “Buy Chatham” initiative to get more people to spend money there.

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New Philadelphia home-repair loan program available to residents in middle neighborhoods

January 18, 2018 | The Philadelphia Inquirer

By Caitlin McCabe

This summer, the city of Philadelphia will launch a $100 million initiative called the “Housing Preservation Loan Program.” Congratulations to Council President Darrell Clarke, as well as Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, the Healthy Rowhouse and other housing advocates in the Philadelphia metro area! A feature of Housing Preservation Loan Program (much unlike a housing program implemented in Baltimore that used private lending loan pool) is that it draws from city resources and will provide low-interest loans at a 3% rate to thousands of its middle neighborhood residents with houses in disrepair. Currently, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that “more than 160,000 homes in the Philadelphia metro area experienced roof leaks. Nearly 120,000 had a crumbling foundation. At least 70,000 homes had mold.” And lastly, about 258,000 households reported experiencing many hours of “uncomfortable cold.” The Housing Preservation Loan Program will dole out up to $25,000 per applicant and contribute to other home-repair grant programs to alleviate the city’s housing problems.

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The Lifeblood of Cities: “Middle” neighborhoods—neither affluent nor poor—remain crucial to urban success

January 9, 2018 | City Journal

By Aaron M. Renn

The media tend to portray urban neighborhoods as either booming gentrified districts or zones of impoverishment. Neighborhoods in between get overlooked. But these older urban and inner-suburban “middle neighborhoods” may be where the next generation of urban problems—or solutions—will be found. Cities once held vast tracts of such neighborhoods, populated by workers in manufacturing or the civil service. With what analysts call a “barbell” economy dividing increasingly into rich and poor, it’s no surprise that urban middle-class neighborhoods are feeling squeezed.

Revitalizing our ‘middle neighborhoods’: One bold idea

December 3, 2017 | The Philadelphia Inquirer |

Op-Ed by Dwight Evans & Ken Weinstein

Cities compete for people. Philadelphia is no different. According to researchers at The Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia, approximately 48 percent of city residents, across the country, live in “middle neighborhoods,” which are described as stable, working-class communities that generally lack outside investment, especially when compared with areas such as Center City, Graduate Hospital or Northern Liberties.

Middle neighborhoods are often saddled with blight, but have extraordinary potential for growth, when given the proper tools. They typically are affordable, safe, and functional.

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ON THE EDGE: OUR CITY’S MIDDLE NEIGHBORHOODS

July 25, 2017 | ceosforcities.com | PDF

by Paul C. Brophy 

Researchers at the Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia report that 48 percent of central city residents in the United States live in “middle neighborhoods.” These neighborhoods are generally affordable and attractive and they offer a reasonable quality of life, but many are in danger of decline.

A shrinking middle class, the suburbanization of jobs, obsolete housing styles, and shrinking homeownership rates clouds the future of these middle neighborhoods that serve as the lynchpin of success for most American city regions.  Yet these areas—that provide a substantial portion of local property-tax revenue–are relatively ignored by policymakers who have focused on the problems of concentrated poverty, gentrification, and the need for downtown revitalization.

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