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Details of Point Breeze 'Land Grab' Released [Updated]

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Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who represents the shall-we-say evolving neighborhood of Point Breeze in South Philly, released a fact sheet for his affordable housing bill to the press last night on background. There's no question the bill, which dovetails with a controversial Redevelopment Authority plan, needed some PR attention: It was not only called "the worst idea ever" by Keystone Politics, but there's an online petition against it with more than 700 (and counting) signatures.

The tenor of today's coverage following the fact sheet's distribution may not be exactly what the city was hoping for (headlines: "Developers call city's Point Breeze eminent domain move a land grab" and "New controversy for Redevelopment Authority in Point Breeze"). The fact sheet is printed in full after the jump. Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Update: The below was not given to the press as an official release, but as a fact sheet for background purposes.

Goal The goal of the Point Breeze Affordable Housing strategy is to create strong neighborhoods that remain accessible to families with varying income levels through the development of mixed income housing.

The Plan

The plan is to acquire 43 properties by the end of the year and develop them in three stages.

Twelve of the properties are already owned by the city. The rest are privately owned, but they are vacant, blighted and or tax delinquent. Seven of the properties owe a total of $40,711 in back taxes. Each of the seven has tax balances over $1,000 (between $1,800 and $11,600).

The properties were chosen because they sit next to or near properties that already are owned by the city and their acquisition will give the city the parcels it needs for development.

Once the properties are acquired, the city will begin accepting proposals for development in early 2013.

The affordable housing units will start at about $150,000.

Councilman Johnson will work with the city to actively sell lots that have not been targeted for affordable housing. In his first 9 months in office, he has already supported the sale of 33 properties for market rate development.

There are a total of 809 publicly-owned vacant properties in the district – 311 of which are in Point Breeze. There are about 1,000 privately-owned vacant lots in Point Breeze


The acquisition in Point Breeze is being funded by Qualified Redevelopment Bonds (QRB) issued under the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). QRB spending is restricted to specific activities (land acquisition, site preparation, and rehabilitation and relocation expenses) in designated geographic areas, one of which is Point Breeze.

Affordable housing developed under the RFP to be issued in early 2013 will be supported by $2 million in funding from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The City was awarded funds in two rounds of NSP funding, $16.8 million in formula funds in NSP-1 in FY 2010 and $43.9 million in competitively-awarded NSP-2 funds in FY 2011. These funds are to be used to stabilize neighborhoods affected by high levels of foreclosure, vacant housing and blight and are restricted to use in neighborhoods, one of which is Point Breeze, identified in the City's NSP applications.

Funding for future affordable housing development of these condemned properties will be identified through OHCD's annual budgeting process, which will begin in spring 2013 for the City's next fiscal year, FY 2014.

The first Request for Proposal (RFP) will be funded with $2 million in NSP funds (federal money). The number of units will depend on the nature of the proposals submitted by developers. Further RFP funding will likely come from a funding poll including:
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) - Federal block grant money;
Home - Direct allocation from federal government; and
Housing Trust Fund - mortgage and deed recording fees in the city

All of these sources are restricted to housing and neighborhood revitalization activities. The Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) gets almost no general fund money, and that money is used for services like tangled title and first time home buyer assistance. OHCD will determine which of the above-mentioned funds will go to development.

Why now

According to 2010 data, more than 300,000 Philadelphia households pay more than 30% of their income for housing. The introduction of 40 new units of affordable housing in the area recently does not reduce the need to increase the supply of affordable housing. In addition, in appreciating neighborhoods, waiting to do affordable housing only means that the available funding will support the acquisition of fewer parcels, meaning less housing can be developed.

How the city fits in

The city supports equitable development that creates sustainable neighborhoods in which households of varying incomes live.

The city applied for and received a federal stimulus funding to develop mixed income housing in three rapidly growing neighborhoods that it thought would be ideal for affordable housing development. Those neighborhoods included Point Breeze, Mantua, and Nicetown. This is why city is pursuing development in Point Breeze.

· Everyone Wants a Piece of Point Breeze—Rather Desperately [CPHI]
· Point Breeze/Lotgate archives [CPHI]