By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–City Council plans to extend a deadline for one of the programs that will give homeowners relief next year in the wake of Philadelphia’s new property assessments.

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At issue is what’s called gentrification relief; a break for longtime homeowners whose assessments more than tripled under the Actual Value Initiative because their neighborhoods became hot sellers.

City Council and the Mayor are still waiting for state lawmakers to approve means-based testing for the program, so for the time being it is on hold.

Now, Council President Clarke wants to extend the current January 15th deadline to February 17th:

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“We’ve seen during the (separate) homestead (relief) process that our ability to get individuals signed up and get those applications back in was much longer than we anticipated. So I want to make sure that that doesn’t happen with the gentrification relief bill.”

Both Clarke and the mayor want gentrification relief to be means-based so that well-to-do homeowners who are not struggling under the new assessments would not qualify. But only the state can allow for such testing, and Clarke says if in the end they lack Harrisburg’s approval, the parameters of the program will have to change.

“If we’re not successful in getting that bill, that threshold will probably have to go down somewhat, because it will not be means-based.”

Clarke says once Harrisburg acts, letters will be sent out to those who qualify notifying them of the opportunity to enroll.

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A spokesman for state senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi says they expect the bill to be voted on before the end of the year.