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City Council Introduces Two New Affordable Housing Bills

Philadelphia City Hall

The Philadelphia City Council has introduced its new plans to address affordable housing, and they have taken surprising forms.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez introduced two new bills, neither of which include a mandatory set-aside for affordable units in residential developments, PlanPhilly reports.

The first bill, sponsored by Clarke, would tax every new construction project and renovation a flat 1%, with proceeds from that tax paid into the Housing Trust Fund. The fund would then use that money to fund homeownership and rentals for households making less than 120% of the area median income.

The bill does not specify how exactly the funds would be allocated between those two uses, but does mandate payment based on the estimated cost of construction, due when the building permit is issued.

The second bill, sponsored by Quiñones-Sanchez, beefs up the existing incentives to include affordable housing units in market-rate multifamily developments. Developers who set aside at least 10% of units as affordable to households making at most 60% of AMI for renters or 80% for buyers would get density bonuses. If they set aside units for households making 50% of AMI for renters and 70% for homeowners, the bonuses go up considerably.

That element of the bill closely resembles what is on the books, but this iteration allows for developers to pay 1% of estimated construction costs into the Housing Trust Fund to achieve the moderate-income bonus or 2% to achieve the low-income bonus. Additionally, these incentives would apply to nearly all areas of the city zoned for multifamily of any size, as well as some single-family areas.

The two new bills come with the support of the Building Industry Association, which had strongly opposed previous iterations of the inclusionary zoning bill. BIA President Leo Addimando told PlanPhilly they will "add another level of benefit to the City by making the already successful 10-year tax abatement program a funding source for affordable housing.

For now, the abatement survives untouched, to the relief of developers