PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia city council committee has approved a bill that expands the city’s so-called LOOP program that gives tax breaks to long-time homeowners in changing neighborhoods. It did so over the objections of the Kenney administration.
The committee rejected an administration compromise after a long and contentious hearing.
The bill was about taxes, but the real subject was gentrification, as witnesses, like Tiffany Green, from areas with climbing home values, pleaded for the protection of a LOOP expansion.
“If outside developers can come into Philadelphia and get a tax abatement, than Philadelphians should be able to get on LOOP,” Green said. “Where am I going to go?”
“Why should we get thrown in the street?” said another witness.
The original bill made homeowners eligible for a ten-year tax break if they earned 80 percent of poverty income. The new bill would expand that to 150 percent and put no time limit on how long homeowners get the break.
Kenney administration officials said that would cost the city millions and suggested income limits of 120 percent of poverty, but after the passionate testimony, the bill’s sponsor, Kenyatta Johnson, said he was sticking with 150 percent.
“I’m just as passionate,” Johnson said. “We all grew up in these same types of neighborhoods. I’m still in Point Breeze. I see the gentrification that’s going on.”
The bill now goes to the full council.