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Affordable Housing in Philly

Jeff

Cyburbian
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4,161
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27
Philadelphia is currently "revitalizing" acrea and acres of rundown neighborhoods, mainly in the North and West sections of the city. The project is demolishing whole neighborhoods with the intent of building "affordable" housing.

Philly is a union town, and all new construction must be done at union rates, therefore, new houseing costs are going to be $150K+

Does anyone have or have you ever heard of programs which offset the higher price of union labor, so the houses may be more affordable?

I'm thinking of something which would be less than govt-subsidized housing.



DEFINITION = $150K Housing costs is a likely construction cost for a twin (ballpark figure)
 
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kms

Cyburbian
Messages
6,412
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39
I just read an article about The Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises. I don't think that they could solve your question, but might have some ideas that interest you.

www.fahe.org
 

Cullen

Member
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33
Points
2
to not answer your question, but, I was just in philadelphia a few weeks ago and I saw many advertisements on the sides of buildings for "luxury apartments" and something like "prices starting in the 90's"

if one can purchase luxury apartements for 90k, how can affordable housing be around 150k? It must be that these are actual houses and the square footage must be decidedly larger.
it doens't really seem too much more affordable in any case.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
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23
Cullen said:
to not answer your question, but, I was just in philadelphia a few weeks ago and I saw many advertisements on the sides of buildings for "luxury apartments" and something like "prices starting in the 90's"

if one can purchase luxury apartements for 90k, how can affordable housing be around 150k? It must be that these are actual houses and the square footage must be decidedly larger.
it doens't really seem too much more affordable in any case.
all new development in the city is tax abated for 10 years and likewise the value of any improvements to existing structures is also exempt for 10 years. These subsidies are passed on to the buyer.

Developers have been taking advantage of center city's 97% occupancy rate to convert the glut of outdated office space into new condos. So yeah, housing is still incredibly cheap in Philly compared to Boston, New York, and even DC. (ps - baltimore is next). At any rate these places start at $90k so that's prob. for a studio. A 2 bedroom is prob. more like $130k+

If you noticed, with the exception of the area along Market St. and around Rittenhouse Square there are very few buildings in Philly over 6 stories. Philadelphians just don't live in apartments. It's a rowhouse or a twin or it's nothing. Even in Center City i'd go so far as to say that maybe as many as 40% of the rental units are in converted townhouses.

So, when people are looking to buy a house they mean a "house" - something with a front door and a back door. I'll add pictures soon of what Mike is talking about. It just adds to the cost and so does the "one off street parking spot per household" rule. I've been house hunting myself and property values are climbing swiftly in almost every neighborhood in the city. Land is getting expensive and clearing land has always been expensive.

While i'm not really fond of the building trades unions (for different reasons) I don't think hiring non-union labor is going to solve anything. It might make the line longer at the sales office, though. Your still not going to bring the cost of a new house below $120k and i don't think you can skimp on materials anymore than they already are.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
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4,161
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27
jresta said:


While i'm not really fond of the building trades unions (for different reasons) I don't think hiring non-union labor is going to solve anything. It might make the line longer at the sales office, though. Your still not going to bring the cost of a new house below $120k and i don't think you can skimp on materials anymore than they already are.
I agree completely. There will never be anything built in the city non-union. At least not in my lifetime. Union rates for construction are almost double what the non-union rates are. Thats where I got the idea of somehow offset the union costs. But now the more I think about it, I don't like the idea. The unions are bad enough in the city, so offsetting there rates isn't the answer. That would be like justifying their outrageous rates.

But, fully subsidized housing will never get the diverse neighborhoods that I think the city is after.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
$90k, even $140k seems pretty freakin affordable to me. Do they pay people there in confederate money or what?

Demolishing whole neighborhoods sounds like bad news to me, though. Urban Renewal here we come.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
mike gurnee said:
Pre-manufactured housing?
haha - we could just turn Strawberry Mansion and Grays Ferry into trailer parks.

To be fair, though, where the city is concerned they're not really razing whole neighborhoods. The two examples i can think of are North Philly (the "short north", if you will) where they razed about 20 blocks of housing projects from the 50's. They put in its place this subdivision that looks like it was lifted straight out of southern california.

Other than that NTI (neighborhood transformation initiative) isn't razing neighborhoods or whole blocks. They're just going after abandoned properties . . . which happens to be a lot of houses in certain neighborhoods. The complaints come in that some amazing houses are being torn down that are perfectly stable and can be secured for less than the cost of tearing it down.

Universal Properties, which operates in South Philly, is doing mostly infill, a lot of rehabs of existing structures, and some strategic demos. The problem is that they've been given eminent domain powers by the city and are taking people's houses. Despite appearances a lot of these house are incredibly nice inside and could easily fetch $150k in another neighborhood but Universal is offering them $30 and $40k in most cases because that's what the houses are selling for. The owners often have receipts for repairs/maintenance totaling more than what Universal offers. It's one thing if the people want to move but these are takings from people who like where they live, have no intention of moving and in most cases have had the house in the family for 3 or 4 generations. To add insult to injury they offer them first dibs on the new houses that go up. Taking a house they own, giving them $40k, then offering them an inferior house for $150k.

Ahhh . . . low-mod housing . . .
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Mike D. said:
I agree completely. There will never be anything built in the city non-union. At least not in my lifetime. Union rates for construction are almost double what the non-union rates are. Thats where I got the idea of somehow offset the union costs. But now the more I think about it, I don't like the idea. The unions are bad enough in the city, so offsetting there rates isn't the answer. That would be like justifying their outrageous rates.

But, fully subsidized housing will never get the diverse neighborhoods that I think the city is after.
I don't think diverse neighborhoods are their intention, in case you didn't hear, "the brothers and sisters are running this city - runnin' it!" Esp. in the Universal case, Ken Gamble paints an ugly picture of South Philly but what he's trying to stop is the gentrification. Which i don't mind so much but he's making it into a racial thing. He's basically saying if you're poor and black we're building new houses for you but if you're some poor white family from Whitman or Gray's Ferry you're SOL. South Philly has been majority white since the Swedes landed. Income levels among most whites and blacks (south of Washington) don't vary that much. It's the Cambodians and Mexicans east of Broad that are the poorest people in the area.

To shine more light on it - the neighborhoods he is targeting are more or less directly adjacent to center city, are rapidly gentrifying (if they aren't already) and it's creating a lot of conflict.
In the first article he says "This area of South Philadelphia is a largely African-American community" The boundaries are defined as 5th St. to 22nd St. and South St. to Tasker St. I hate to break it Gamble but all the old nonnas in Bella Vista might beg to differ. In fact, with the exception of the Hawthorne neighborhood there's never been much of an African American community between 5th and 14th and as recently as 10 years ago the neighborhood around 15th & Tasker was still Italian.

http://citypaper.net/articles/2003-03-06/cover.shtml
http://citypaper.net/articles/2003-06-19/cb3.shtml
http://www.universalcompanies.org/
 
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