The public lots go out to bid as the city continues to struggle with an affordable housing crisis and contend with a tight housing market that has kept home prices high. This as household incomes here have failed to keep pace, putting homeownership out of reach for more and more working residents, including municipal employees.
Under the new program, income-qualified city workers are slated to have competitive advantage when homes hit the market. A bill to that end is expected to pass City Council as early as next month.
“I know guys that have been working for the city as foremans, still having to rent rooms because they can’t afford affordable housing,” said Ernest Garrett, president of AFSCME District Council 33, the city’s blue collar union. “I can’t wait to put that message out there so people can get things together to try to qualify for this program.”
To qualify for the program, applicants must earn no more than 80% of the area median income (AMI), which translates to $94,500 for a family of four. And subsidies available through the program will make it possible for a family earning as low as 60% of AMI to purchase one of these homes.
Participating developers, who will be incentivized in the form of nominally-priced land, will ultimately decide which applicants will become first-time home buyers. That includes the 40-plus homes that will be built on a large grassy lot on the 600 block of North 55th Street in the Carroll Park section of West Philadelphia.