A few weeks ago, a large number of homeowners throughout the City of Philadelphia received notices from the Office of Property Assessment (OPA) that their properties have been reassessed. In many cases, the reassessed values increased substantially. Since property taxes are based on OPA's assessment valuations, it follows that many homeowners are likely to see an increase in their property taxes in 2019.
Because many people in Center City have questions about the reassessment process and want to know how to appeal, CCRA held a public meeting last week at Tenth Presbyterian Church. A panel consisting of Michael Piper (Chief Assessment Officer for the OPA), Salima Cunningham (Communication Coordinator for the OPA), and attorney Stewart Weintraub fielded questions from a packed audience. For information about that public meeting, check out this article from Philly.com reporter Erin Arvedlund.
Here are some of the takeaways:
Penn’s Village helps Central Philadelphia seniors stay in their homes by linking neighbor to neighbor to help with transportation, chores, and medical visits, and provides social and educational programs. To learn more visit www.pennsvillage.org or call 215-925-7333.
Penn’s Village is inviting CCRA members who may not be Penn’s Village members to attend the following programs:
This program is free for Penn’s Village members and volunteers. A $5 donation from other guests would be appreciated.
Guests are welcome to attend three Penn’s Village programs before becoming a member and/or volunteer. For all of the above Penn’s Village programs, please register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 215-925 7333.
Penn’s Village Programs Open to Non-Members
Penn’s Village helps Central Philadelphia seniors stay in their homes by linking neighbor to neighbor to help with transportation, chores, and medical visits, and provides social and educational programs. To learn more visit www.pennsvillage.org or call 214-925-7333.
For all of the above Penn’s Village programs, please register by emailing email@example.com or calling 215 925 7333.
Pennsylvania’s primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 15th, and only registered voters are entitled to vote.
The deadline to register to vote in the primary is April 16th. In Pennsylvania, you can register in person, by mail, and at various government agencies. Information on how to register is at https://www.philadelphiavotes.com/en/voters/registering-to-vote.
Primary elections are important because the winners will be the candidates in the general election November 6th.
Parents of college students please remind them that they can register to vote where they attend college, or they can vote in Philadelphia by absentee ballot. Therefore, it is important to register to vote at the location at which they want to vote – at their college location or at their home address.
CCRA is working with the Philadelphia Streets Department to try to resolve problematic Big Belly garbage cans in our neighborhood that frequently are overfilled to capacity. In the meantime, we ask that you do not add to the problem by putting household or other trash outside of or around an overly full Big Belly!
This is not only a quality of life issue, but it is also a public health and wellness issue.
If you see someone adding to the pile, please ask them to stop and think about it and take their garbage home or to another trash can. You can also use 311 to report issues of concern that are not a crime in progress.
If you are aware of a Big Belly trash can near you that continues to be overfilled, please reach out to CCRA at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
CCRA’s Streets Committee is planning a general meeting with representatives of the City of Philadelphia Streets Department’s about initiatives that effect our neighborhood. One of the subject’s to be discussed will be the Big Belly program which has been greatly expanded. An abbreviated description of the program is the following:
The BigBelly program and other Streets Department programs will be discussed in greater detail at the public meeting which be announced in future weekly e-newsletters and emails.
A big Valentine’s Day heart to all those who volunteered or donated funds for a Valentine’s Day Party for 40 male residents of our neighborhood who are experiencing homelessness. We had over 20 volunteers and raised more than sufficient funds to serve a fabulous meal (plus lots of treats and left-overs for the guys) to everyone. Volunteers and residents shared good conversation and sat down for a meal together. Thanks to board member Donna Cordner and her team of volunteers, our local St. Marks Church, where the men sleep at night, was decorated with holiday cheer and the men were each given a Valentines “goody bag” thoughtfully created by our volunteers. We saw big smiles on some struggling faces.
After enjoying Primo’s hoagies, lots of fixings, and desserts galore, the men and volunteers continued the fun with an Eagles themed game of “Topple the Tower”, which reminded everyone of who we toppled last Sunday! It was a huge ice breaker – a game of Eagles Jenga on every table. The room vibrated with groans and cheers as pieces were successfully removed, or the tower toppled. The games were left for the guys to play again, as they enjoyed them so much (and we did, too!).
This event is part of a commitment of CCRA to make our neighborhood a better place to live, work and play, for ALL its residents. We will continue to work with the Bethesda Project to find community-based solutions to reduce homelessness as well as lessen its impact on our neighborhood. If you are interested in joining this initiative in some way (donating clothes, food, time, etc.), please contact board member Barbara Halpern at email@example.com
Today CCRA sent the following letter to Councilman Kenyatta Johnson supporting his bill that seeks to expand the City's LOOP Program:
Dear Councilperson Johnson:
On behalf of the Center City Residents’ Association (CCRA), I write in support of Bill No. 170901 (“the Bill”), which is the latest in a series of amendments expanding the breath and scope of the Tax Exemptions for Longtime Owner-Occupants of Residential Properties Program (otherwise known as “the LOOP Program”).
Realizing that many longtime homeowners of limited economic means – especially seniors on fixed incomes – could be adversely impacted by the City’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI), CCRA has for years been a strong proponent of the LOOP Program, which provides a limited property tax exemption to eligible owner-occupiers on that portion the assessed valuation of their properties which is in excess of three (3) times the previous year’s valuation. For example, last year we supported Bill No. 160012, which removed a 10-year cap on the duration of the tax exemption under the LOOP Program for qualifying middle and low income residents.
It is our understanding that the Bill seeks to further expand the LOOP Program by removing a provision from the law that currently renders homeowners ineligible from participation if their total household income is greater than or equal to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), as established by HUD. As a result, if the Bill is passed, long-term owner-occupiers of real estate in the City will be able to take advantage of the LOOP Program for an indefinite period of time so long as their total household income is less than or equal to 150% of AMI, until their properties are sold, transferred, or are no longer their principal residences.
CCRA supports the Bill for two important reasons. First, the Bill furthers the goal of the LOOP Program to help long-term homeowners in Philadelphia on fixed incomes who experience large increases in the assessed value of their properties from one year to the next. As a result, it will help those residents who may not be in a position to shoulder the economic consequences of gentrification.
Second, the economic impact of the LOOP Program on the City’s finances is relatively small given that existing legislation already provides an annual cap of $20 million, and further provides that if the cap were to be reached in any year, then the respective exemptions would be allocated among all eligible taxpayers on a pro rata basis so that the total taxes exempted under the LOOP Program would never exceed $20 million in that year.
We do recognize that there are some potential areas of abuse. For example, there is the possibility that the City may inadvertently allow some taxpayers with household incomes that somewhat exceed 150% of the AMI to participate in the LOOP Program. In addition, we realize that certain high-income taxpayers who benefit from an informal, unrecorded property transfer may slip through the cracks and improperly be permitted to participate.
However, on balance, CCRA believes that the benefits of the Bill outweigh those potential areas of abuse. We therefore look forward to City Council acting on this legislation.
Wade D. Albert
Read the original letter here.
CCRA’s Government Relations Committee will be hosting a town hall meeting with United States Congressman Dwight E. Evans starting 6:30 P.M., Monday, December 4, 2017 at Plays and Players, 1714 Delancey Place, to tell us what’s happening in Washington. Since November 14, 2016, the Congressman has represented Pennsylvania’s Second District (which includes the CCRA neighborhood) in the US House of Representatives. He is well known in Philadelphia because of his long service (1980 to 2016) in the PA House of Representatives representing West Oak Lane. In the House of Representatives he serves on the Agriculture and the Small Business Committees, and he is Co-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Economic Development and Wealth Creation Task Force.
During his brief tenure in the House of Representatives Congressman Evans has introduced six bills. They are H.R. 922, the Rehabilitation of Historic Schools Act of 2017; H.R. 1702, the Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act of 2017; H.R. 2655, the Small Business Innovation Protection Act of 2017; H.R. 2780, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Cyber Training Act; H.R. 3532, the No Conflict of Interest Presidency Act of 2017; and H.R.3660, the No Federal Funding for Confederate Symbols Act. Two of these bills are in response to the recent national events. H.R. 3532 would require the conversion of the Trump Organization’s businesses, which include real estate, golf courses, hotels, resorts and a range of other investments, into cash, with which President Trump would then be required to buy treasury bills and widely diversified mutual funds, that are considered conflict free under federal law. H.R. 3660, which the Congressman introduced with New York Congressman Adriano Espaillat, would prohibit Federal funds from being used for Confederate symbols on Federal public land. Of the 1,503 remaining symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces, more than 700 Confederate monuments and statues are on public property throughout the country.
The town hall meeting will give the audience an opportunity to discuss a myriad of topics on current legislative issues and other matters important to them.