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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A rally at City Hall on Thursday called attention to affordable housing and the tax abatement in Philadelphia as organizers put pressure on city officials to take action.
Council members in City Hall got a notice on their door Thursday morning. It’s a warning from a group of Philadelphians saying that each member will be voted out from their seat if members cannot pass a bill that ensures affordable housing in Philadelphia and end tax abatement.
“People are being pushed out, folks are recognizing that their time is limited and they are fighting for their right to stay in their neighborhood,” explains Angelita Ellison from Point Breeze.
Ellison explains how tax abatement has hurt some like her, even though it was a plan put in place to help.
Tax abatement was intended to give a tax break to developers for 10 years so they would build in struggling neighborhoods.
“It raises the property value, and not that having the property value go up is a bad thing, but when it jumps from like a house that may have been worth $30,000 or $40,000 or $50,000, and then the house next door is worth $100,000, and so your taxes on your house are going to be jumping up,” says Ellison.
She says the result is many are being forced to move from neighborhoods their families have lived in for generations.
City Council continued to work on a previously proposed construction tax to help with affordable housing while City Councilwoman Cindy Bass introduced a new end to tax abatement bill.
“What we are calling for is a complete recall of the tax abatement. What we are asking that be eliminated effective the end of October of this year, and we think we have a lot of support,” explains Bass.
Mayor Jim Kenney says he opposes an abrupt end to a tax abatement. He instead wants to focus on a passing more affordable housing and then start a conversation about managing tax abatement.
Bass’ proposal was only introduced Thursday, so it is unlikely to see any movement anytime soon.