Philadelphia's Rowhouse Remedy for Gentrification
Last year, Philadelphia's city council "approved the strategic plan of a new land bank to target the redevelopment of thousands of vacant buildings, lots and other tax-delinquent properties."
But the appearance of dilapidation can be deceptive: the city's rowhouses have good bones. "'Our brick rowhomes are those houses that the wolf couldn't blow down in the three little pigs story,' says Karen Black, a former civil rights lawyer and current CEO of May 8 Consulting."
The Healthy Rowhouse Project challenges oncoming gentrification, arguing that existing stock will always be more affordable than new units, "'because it costs more than $300,000 to build a single unit of affordable housing,' says Black. 'At the same time, we can repair an existing home that people are already living in for $10,000 or less.'"
Meanwhile, others want to make it harder for speculators to displace longtime residents. The Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities (PCAC) has proposed a so-called "flip tax" that "would tack on a 1.5 percent fee to the city's 4 percent realty transfer tax for properties that sell more than once in 24 months."