City Council Bill Could Junk Philly’s Best Tax Factory for Affordable Housing

Philadelphia’s Mixed-Income Housing program is like a money-printer for the city’s Housing Trust Fund, raising far more than City Council originally anticipated when they passed it in 2018. As we wrote last month, the Housing Trust Fund just received its second-largest-ever payment under the Mixed-Income program, to the tune of almost $1 million for a single project. For context, the entire Housing Trust Fund has only been receiving about $20 million from the city in recent years, so receiving 1/20 of that from a single project is a big deal. Continue reading

What's in Rebecca Rhynhart's Alternative Spending Plan for the Federal Recovery Funds?

(Image: Philadelphia Magazine) Philadelphia is receiving a big cash infusion from the federal government to restore our funding levels and services after the pandemic-induced budget crunch last year, and there are a lot of questions out there about how strategically city elected officials are using that money.  Last week, the Inquirer published an op-ed by Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, in which she sounded the alarm about the Kenney administration's current approach, and laid out an alternative plan for spending the substantial funds allocated to the City via the American Rescue Plan (ARP).  Continue reading

What Will the NYC Mayoral Race Say About Philly's Next Mayor?

(Image: Kathryn Garcia) New York City’s Mayoral primary election is happening next month, and the results will be very interesting to watch from a Philadelphia perspective because of how Philadelphia’s Mayoral elections have often tended to mirror the political mood in New York. Mayor Michael Nutter’s technocratic political style was in many ways reminiscent of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s approach, while Mayor Jim Kenney’s more closely resembles the more classic left-liberal approach and general vibe of Mayor Bill De Blasio, who was elected just a couple years before Kenney. Continue reading

Philly Almost Getting HQ2 is the Next Best Thing

A new book, “Amazon Unbound”, by the author Brad Stone revealed this week that Philadelphia was closer to the top of Amazon’s list of finalists for HQ2 than the conventional wisdom may have predicted, making it into the final 3 finishers with Chicago and Raleigh. Continue reading

That's a Wrap! Takeaways from Philly's 2021 Primary

District Attorney Larry Krasner won a decisive victory over challenger Carlos Vega in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, winning 66% of the vote to Vega’s 34%, as of this writing. The result isn’t entirely surprising given how often incumbents generally win reelection, but the background conditions of heightened gun violence and murders over the last year had many political observers wondering whether we’d see a thermostatic reaction to Krasner’s politics. In the end, most voters didn’t buy Vega and the FOP’s efforts to lay the blame for increased crime on Krasner, and the incumbent actually did better in the wards that had seen the highest numbers of shootings last year. Continue reading

What Does Jim Kenney Want to Accomplish with Tax Reform?

(Mayor Jim Kenney) There are a couple of tax reform proposals in the mix in this year’s city budget debate, with a short window of opportunity presented by relatively flush city coffers for elected officials to make a smart investment in the city’s economic competitiveness.  Continue reading

Philly's Housing Shortage and the Problem of Low Vacancy Rates

(New homes under construction in East Kensington | Photo: Jon Geeting) The Philadelphia region is facing an historic housing shortage, with some of the lowest home inventory available in decades in both the city and the suburbs. There are many different reasons why this is the case, not least because the backdrop is a nationwide housing shortage of more than 2.5 million homes, but a big part of it is straightforward: we simply haven’t built enough homes. Continue reading

This Election Day, Let’s ‘Vote & Vax’ at Polling Places

(Photo: Timothy Rezendes via Creative Commons) It’s only been a few weeks since vaccine eligibility opened up for everybody 16 and older, but already health officials are sounding the alarm that demand for vaccination is plateauing, and there’s more work to be done to get traction among more reluctant residents.  Continue reading

City Council: Go All the Way with Sheriff Reform this Fall

(Image: Philadelphia Sheriff's Office) City Council, led by 9th District Councilmember Cherelle Parker, successfully brought political pressure to bear on the Sheriff’s office after a surprise announcement that Sheriff sales of tax-foreclosed properties would move entirely online. After a lengthy hearing and public denouncement by Parker and other Council members, the episode culminated in a court order postponing all Sheriff sales until this September. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Almost Lost Two Congressional Seats. Do Our Leaders Care?

The Census Bureau released its Congressional apportionment data this week, confirming the expected bad news that Pennsylvania will once again be losing Congressional representation following the latest Census.  The Commonwealth will lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, an outcome that had long been anticipated due to long-running geographic population shifts in the United States, but what’s gotten less attention since the announcement is the fact that we actually nearly lost two seats. Continue reading