ISSUE | SENIOR CITIZENS

Longtime homeowners need city's help

As a proud resident of City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson's Second District, one of the most rapidly gentrifying areas in Philadelphia, I delight every day in the new, charming restaurants and shops; our city is simply thriving. However, as a lawyer at SeniorLaw Center, a nonprofit organization serving low-income senior citizens in Philadelphia (www.seniorlawcenter.org), I witness daily the negative effects of gentrification ("Help keep longtime Phila. residents in their homes," March 9).

Many of our clients have lived in their homes for their entire lives, and half of our clients survive on Social Security payments alone. For these clients, gentrification is devastating. Skyrocketing property taxes are simply unaffordable, often leading to tax foreclosure.

Therefore, I support Johnson's bill to remove the 10-year cap on property assessments for those in the city's Longtime Owner Occupancy Program, which has been essential for our clients. LOOP benefits should continue until an enrollee dies or transfers the property; these natural ending points are much more logical than a sudden, drastic tax jump after 10 years.

Let us honor our seniors and help them live out their years in their lifelong homes and communities.

|Susanna W. Ratner, Philadelphia, sratner@seniorlawcenter.org