Opinion

Pass housing bill

Mayor Jim Kenney should prioritize this bill for long-time residents’ sake.

In the past couple of weeks, City Council passed a bill that extends a “gentrification protection” program.

Changes to the Longtime Owner Occupants Program, or LOOP, would allow homeowners who live in neighborhoods with increasing development to cap their property value until they move or die. The bill is currently awaiting Mayor Jim Kenney’s signature.

We encourage Kenney to pass this bill, as it will help low-income homeowners throughout Philadelphia like those in the surrounding communities around Main Campus.

The Temple News previously reported in March 2013 that a new property tax system—the Actual Value Initiative—was expected to drastically change the property values and taxes near Main Campus.

The switch was questioned by City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who said problems popped up when the new tax rate was off by 30 percent of the properties’ original market prices.

“Under the law, the entire plan is only allowed to be inaccurate up to 15 percent between what the assessed value of what the property is and what the market value is,” Butkovitz told The Temple News in 2013.

One of the blocks near Main Campus impacted is the 1600 block of North Bouvier Street. Several property values on that block jumped from $13,000 to more than $99,000 from 2013-14—more than a sevenfold increase. City Council member Kenyatta Johnson is the sponsor of the bill and said allowing longtime homeowners to retain their properties is vital.

“We must ensure that longtime residents are not left behind, so that the families who have been here for generations are able to stay,” Johnson said in a statement provided by his spokeswoman Kaitlyn Manasterski.

We agree with Johnson. In order to preserve the historic communities surrounding Temple, and ensure low-income families the right to their homes amid increasing property values, Mayor Kenny must prioritize this bill.

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