I know how important safe, affordable housing is - how the difference between having that housing and not having it can change a life - because it changed mine. I understand the anxiety and concern felt by many residents in the face of rising property values and property tax liabilities. Growing up in Abbotsford public housing, my family and I weren't given many opportunities, but we did have safe, affordable housing. I don't know where I would be or who I would have become without the opportunity given to me by the city of Philadelphia.
While I welcome the growth in the real estate market and the expanded tax base, new jobs, and new residents that it represents, people should not be priced out of their own homes with neighborhoods turned on their heads by overly rapid gentrification. I have a multipart plan to protect our residents by making needed changes to our real estate taxes, protecting existing neighborhood homes and producing more affordable housing.
First, I will work with City Council to maintain revenue neutrality during the move from partial to full assessment, so that tax bills do not triple. Next, I will push for caps in assessment increases and deferments of owed tax revenues until sale.
I also will lobby Harrisburg for greater exemptions for longtime residents who are living on fixed incomes. In terms of protecting housing, I'll expand the Basic Systems Repair Program and improve down-payment assistance programs so that people can buy homes, rather than rent them.