The Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities has been paying close attention to this primary election. Our Development without Displacement campaign’s goal of securing more money for affordable accessible housing and urban agriculture will need strong City Council people to write and pass legislation that will increase funding for the City’s Housing Trust Fund.
While the news of Jim Kenney’s win dominates the headlines, PCAC has been paying more attention to the City Council race because City Council will write and vote on our legislation. Tuesday night’s election results bring a mix of returning council members whose support for affordable housing is known and a new group of potential allies and untested individuals.
Philadelphia is changing. There’s a sense of optimism in the way that Philadelphia politicians are welcoming new-comers and real estate investment to Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Yet that optimism is overshadowed by the gentrification ushered in by some real estate developers who are speculating on our neighborhoods, driving up housing costs and displacing working class families. In North, South and West Philadelphia where 77% of new market housing has been built in the past five years, housing costs are increasing rapidly. 50% of renter households in these neighborhoods are paying more than they can afford in rent and over 30% of homeowners are also spending too much of their income on housing.
Let’s take a look at some key races whose outcomes will influence the rate that Philadelphia will gentrify.
The 2nd District: Tuesday night, incumbent Kenyatta Johnson won over challenger and real estate developer Ori Feibush. South Philly has seen the median home sale price increase 184% between 2000 and 2012 the second highest increase in Philly’s neighborhoods. Johnson has come out in support of our campaign, speaking at our March press conference and prioritizing affordable housing in his own writing and other interviews. We will hold Johnson to his word to make equitable development a priority in his second term.
At-Large Race: Three new At-Large City Council members have joined City Council. They are Helen Gym, Derek Green and Allan Domb. Their positions on affordable housing and green space are relatively unknown and we will need to keep track of what positions they take as we head into the general election in November. We need them to commit to prioritizing affordable, accessible housing and green space in their first term.
The primary election was just the beginning. The general election isn’t until November and in the meantime we need existing City Council members to take a stand for affordable housing and green space. Join us this summer and next fall as we keep the pressure on City Council in order to get our legislation passed.