By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council is prodding the Nutter administration to expand the LOOP program, which helps out longtime residents in gentrifying neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

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LOOP, the Longtime Owner Occupants Program, is aimed at owners who’ve been in one home for ten or more years and whose assessments more than tripled after the citywide reassessment.

Those who are approved have their assessments capped at the tripled rate for the next ten years. But residents bought their homes with the help of federal or state assistance are not eligible for LOOP. And some of them, primarily from southwest Philadelphia, told a city council committee that they need the additional help in order to make ends meet:

“I would hate to see the result of me and my children being forced out of our home into a shelter with no other options.”

“A lot of people on my block have been forced to move, because of not being able to keep up with things.”

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“Look at us. We have paid you billions of dollars in taxes. And you mean to tell me you can’t spare us a few million?”

The Nutter Administration resists expanding LOOP because some of those ruled ineligible are receiving the city’s ten-year property tax abatements on new properties. And Revenue Commissioner Clarena Tolson testified that adding these homes to LOOP greatly boosts their re-sale value:

“The property can be sold at great benefit.”

But Councilman Kenyatta Johnson of the 2nd District argued that most of those needing the LOOP benefit are longtime residents not likely to move soon. The committee approved and sent to the full council his measure that would expand LOOP to include residents who received other assistance.

Tolson indicated that the Administration would be amenable to an expansion if it was capped. In other words, residents who received small amounts of assistance could get into the LOOP, while those receiving the 10-year abatement would not. So the bill is expected to be amended before a final vote by council.

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