Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Bill will require low-cost housing

City Council approved the measure, under which developers must build or fund affordable units.

Developers will be required to build affordable housing as part of every major residential project or contribute money toward that end under legislation City Council passed yesterday.

A divided Council approved Councilman Darrell L. Clarke's inclusionary housing bill by a 12-5 vote, reflecting concerns raised by developers.

The bill is a first for Philadelphia, and it gained the support of the Philadelphia Campaign for Housing Justice, a coalition of housing advocates.

"The passage of the bill is a huge win for low- and moderate-income families struggling with the cost of housing across the city," said Mary Ellis, a leader of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Although the law cannot go into effect until Council passes companion legislation offering incentives to builders who must bear the financial burden of the program, developers condemned the requirement as a potential death knell for residential construction.

Developer John Westrum said the uncertainty of what those incentives would be - and how they would affect profitability - could prevent developers from obtaining the financing they need.

"Its passing will have a profound, adverse effect on any developer trying to start any new project over 20 units," Westrum said. "Because the lending institution and lenders don't know what the outcome will be."

Under the legislation, the housing must target families making up to $90,000 a year, or 125 percent of the area's median income. Clarke's revised bill sets aside half of all units for sale or rent to families earning up to 80 percent of the median income. Developers unable to build such units must make payments to the city Housing Trust Fund. Half of that fund targets families making 30 percent or less of the median income.

In its final scheduled meeting of 2007 and of the four-year election cycle, Council also approved:

A bill making it a crime, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,900 fine, to display symbols of hate - defined as a noose, swastika or burning cross - in a workplace or public space.

Zoning required for a new Youth Study Center - the city's juvenile detention center - in West Philadelphia.

One of two pieces of legislation required for the Fox Chase Cancer Center to begin an $800 million expansion over the next 25 years that includes building on a portion of Burholme Park.

A system to regulate the city's tow-truck industry through a service-rotation list.

A requirement that stores program their cash registers to require a birth date to prevent the sale of spray paint and etching acid to minors, a move that Clarke requested.

A requirement that landlords provide carbon-monoxide detectors in rental units.