inclusionary zoning

TOMORROW! Rally to make affordable housing a reality! (And then come to the "First Suburbs Project" forum on Sunday!)

Last December, we won a historic victory when City Council passed Part 1 of an Inclusionary Housing bill. However, that bill doesn’t get us a single new affordable housing unit unless we pass Part 2. IT’S TIME TO GET IT DONE!!!

Join with the Philadelphia Campaign for Housing Justice for a RALLY FOR INCLUSIONARY HOUSING IN PHILADELPHIA!

Thursday, September 25 – 12:00 noon at Dilworth Plaza, City Hall, Northwest corner

Inclusionary housing is an affordable housing policy that requires builders of market-rate housing to include a fair percentage of affordable housing units in their developments or to contribute to a fund dedicated to affordable housing (an “in-lieu fund”).

It's crucial to get the implementing legislation passed--they need bodies at City Hall tomorrow to show that Philadelphians support having the private sector help fix the affordable housing problem too. Last time there were some reallllly cute kids in little painted cardboard house costumes, so get creative!

And, like affordable housing, there are a host of urban problems that really are regional problems, that need regional solutions.

This Sunday, come out to be a part of the exciting "First Suburbs Project" and start organizing for those solutions to become reality!

Do you care about Southeastern Pennsylvania, believe that citizens can and should impact policy and legislation and want to ensure that all people in our region have quality education, working infrastructure to support our communities and appropriate housing?

The Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) First Suburbs Project is an exciting well-organized coalition of suburban leaders addressing these issues head-on ~ and I think that you should come be a part of the process.

First Suburbs Public Forum - Advancing an Agenda for Regional Change
- Sunday, September 28, 2008, 4pm to 6pm at St. Patrick's Catholic Church - 714 DeKalb St., Norristown, PA 19401

On September 28, 2008, over 600 suburban leaders will convene at St. Patrick's Church in Norristown to unveil an agenda for change centered on three policy areas: education finance, infrastructure, and housing. This agenda will be presented to the dozens of legislators including State Senators Edwin Erickson and Anthony Williams, State Representatives and County Commissioners who have committed to attend (see attached flyer for a list). There is a chance that Governor Rendell will be there. These elected officials will hear an agenda for change that has specific, actionable steps that will benefit the older developed suburbs of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the region as a whole.

Some history: The agenda that will be presented has been developed by hundreds of suburban leaders, who have participated in working group sessions over the course of the past year. The First Suburbs Public Forum builds from the previous gatherings of the First Suburbs Project. In December of 2007, at the First Suburbs Summit at Bryn Mawr College, over 350 suburban leaders launched Issue Action Groups in the three policy areas of education finance, infrastructure, and housing. In May, 2008, at the First Suburbs Issue Convention at Bishop McDevitt High School in Cheltenham, over 300 suburban leaders reconvened to review the principles developed by each Issue Action Group and to select the immediate priority issue for the organization. Since then, the Issue Action Groups have continued to meet to develop specific action steps, consistent with the principles they identified in May. For more information on SEPA First Suburbs Project, go to:

Who should come:
You, your loved ones, young people, old people, anyone who you know who cares about these issues. The meeting is only 2 hours and will not run over. (My father has been very involved in this effort and will be the mc, so I can give you my personal word on that.) Leaders will be asking the legislators for specific commitments so we need as many people there to show support as we can.

I live in Philadelphia, should I still come:
Yes, this is about regional equity and is important for everyone in our region. Plus, Norristown is only 25 minutes away, especially on a Sunday afternoon.

City Council to Consider Flawed Inclusionary Zoning Bill TOMMORROW!

There is an inclusionary zoning bill that, if passed, would put Philadelphia at the forefront of cities in making sure that average city residents benefit from all that high-end development cropping up everywhere. Inclusionary zoning mandates that some portion of new construction over a certain size contains affordable units, or allows "in lieu" contribution to a fund that will build that affordable housing and provide other crucial services. This bill was drafted with the accumulated wisdom of our own Community Legal Services lawyers, and with the knowledge of leading national experts.

This great inclusionary zoning bill, which Philadelphia greatly needs, is NOT the one that City Council will be voting on tomorrow.

The bill before City Council, drafted by Councilman Darrell Clarke and put up for last-minute vote before Mayor Street leaves office, looks like an inclusionary zoning bill. However, the affordable housing that it would mandate is not affordable to the average Philadelphian. Councilman Clarke's bill only requires that developers build units that would be affordable to people making between 80% and 150% of the median income for Philadelphia. That works out to $57,000 to $104,000 per year in income. Most Philadelphia families do not come close to even the low end of that spectrum. (Click here for a comparison of the two bills.)

We have the chance to pass a model bill in the new year, with a new mayor and a revived City Council. It is crucial that we get Councilman Clarke's bill voted down tomorrow, so we do not squander that opportunity.

As the mayor elect has said (and I've quoted twice this week): "We no longer need to chase growth; now we need to guide it." True words. We need to stop settling for less than we deserve. Come to City Hall room 400 tomorrow at 9:45 am. Testify why each Philadephian deserves the chance to buy a house he or she can afford. Tell City Council we will wait for the right bill.

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