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BIA issues statement on mixed income housing bill

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July 07, 2017

The Building Industry Association of Philadelphia (BIA) and its many members look forward to continuing a dialogue with City Council and working with the sponsors of Bill No. 17067800 to craft legislation that provides feasible incentives for residential developers to continue building market rate and affordable housing. As proposed, it is the BIA’s view that the mixed-income housing bill would have the opposite effect and depress all residential development. Even with the zoning bonuses provided in the bill, the achievable market rate rents and sale prices in Philadelphia make the inclusion of affordable units as proposed unworkable, when taking into consideration the current price of land and that Philadelphia has the fifth highest construction costs in the United States.
Ten years ago, City Council proposed similar affordable housing legislation. At that time, the BIA demonstrated that an inclusionary zoning mandate would have a disastrous impact on the development of any housing in Philadelphia and certainly not help to increase the amount of affordable housing. This remains true today.
The enormous problem of poverty in Philadelphia is not due merely to a lack of affordable homes. To effectively address equity and reduce the number of people living in poverty, more jobs need to be created, the quality of public education needs to be improved and the citywide economic benefits that are currently provided by growth and development need to be sustained.
According to data compiled by the National Association of Realtors, Philadelphia is already one of the most affordable cities based on median incomes and the price of for-sale and rental housing. Legislation such as this, which creates an inclusionary zoning mandate, risks stalling development and destroying jobs – exactly what Philadelphia does not need at this critical juncture.