PHILADELPHIA Philadelphians who haven't already postmarked their tax-relief applications should take matters into their own hands if they want a piece of the $20 million available for gentrification relief.

Applications for the Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP), designed to help those who have lived in their homes for more than 10 years and whose assessments tripled this year because of property tax changes, must be in city hands by Tuesday, not postmarked by that date, said city spokesman Mark McDonald.

The applications can be dropped off at the Office of Property Assessment at the Curtis Center, 601 Walnut St.; Municipal Services Building, 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.; and the mini-city halls at 22d and Somerset Streets and 9239 Roosevelt Blvd.

The program caps assessments for eligible homeowners for 10 years, mirroring the city's tax abatement on new construction.

City Council has passed legislation, supported by the state, that extended the deadline from Jan. 15 to Feb. 17. Because Monday was a holiday, the deadline was extended to Tuesday.

To be eligible, a homeowner must have lived since July 1, 2003, in a residence where the assessment has at least tripled this year.

Last year, the city generated a list of homeowners who could qualify for gentrification relief, based on assessments and length of ownership, and mailed notifications to about 80,000 property owners in December. At the time, officials estimated that only 15,000 to 20,000 homeowners would qualify for relief, given income limits and other requirements.

As of last week, however, more than 25,000 applications had been received.

"In the event that they were oversubscribed, if you will, then the benefit would be prorated," McDonald said.

All applicants will be notified on the status of their application by late March.

More information is available online at, where the city has included a tool to help homeowners determine eligibility.

215-815-1953 @InqCVargas