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Published on May 20, 2024
Philadelphia City Council Paves Way for Ballot Question to Invest Developer Funds in Housing TrustSource: City Council, Philadelphia

In a push to funnel developer dollars back into Philadelphia neighborhoods, the City Council's Law & Government Committee has given the green light to a pivotal ballot question that could beef up the Housing Trust Fund, as reported by phlcouncil.com. Bill No. 240061 in tandem with Resolution No. 240068 is now set for a potential City Council thumbs up come May 30th, paving the way for a 2025 ballot box appearance.

The charter amendment proposition, advocated by Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, insists that cash from "payments in lieu" of developers providing affordable housing, needs to reinforce the Housing Trust Fund, which helps neighborhoods get the affordable housing they deserve and Philadelphia as a whole, Jamie Gauthier stated "I want to thank City Council’s Law & Government Committee for sending my proposed ballot measure to the City Council floor with a favorable recommendation," describing the move as a dual victory for both governance and the community.

The existing setup allows developers to amp up their buildings beyond the base zoning limits in exchange for contributing environmentally friendly or community-supporting perks, known as "density bonuses." There's a twist in the tale for those who instead opt to pay a fee, a payment that should ideally swell the coffers of the Housing Trust Fund, the city's lifeline for affordable dwellings. Yet, these funds have yet to translate into a boost for the Fund, leaving local areas shortchanged and the larger housing initiatives starved for resources.

Under the new legislation, monies from developers taking the payment option would be obliged to be tacked onto the following year's Housing Trust Fund budget as extra cash; for example, if $5 million is pooled from these payments in 2024, then the FY26's budget for the Housing Trust Fund must reflect an identical upsurge in funds.