Five Minutes with a Finalist: Five City Center
Robert DiLorenzo, Senior Project Mananger, City Center Investment Corporation, joins us for “Five Minutes with a Finalist”.
For more than a decade, the City of Philadelphia has enjoyed an increasing population and a strong housing market. While an asset to the city’s economic health, this uptick puts pressure on affordable housing stock, encouraging property owners to increase rents or convert affordable units to market-rate units.
Naturally occurring affordable housing, or NOAH, is unsubsidized privately owned rental housing. With approximately 76,000 of these properties in Philadelphia, NOAH is most common in middle-market neighborhoods. Approximately 50% of the City’s NOAH properties are vulnerable due to poor condition, displacement risk or strong market value, and in need of intervention.
Through a research and policy partnership between Philadelphia’s Division of Housing Development Corporation (DHCD), ULI Philadelphia, and the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing, Preserving Philadelphia’s Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing, a new National Study Visit report, was released to address at-risk rental units in the city’s middle neighborhoods.
To convene the panel, ULI turned to its members for local and national affordable housing experts. In place of traveling to Philadelphia during the pandemic, the City supplied the panel with a rich set of briefing materials, maps, and a virtual tour to provide a deeper dive into Kensington, Oxford Circle and Wynnefield, three Philadelphia neighborhoods that feature a significant portion of the City’s NOAH stock. The panel also conducted interviews with over 30 local stakeholders.
Highlights of the report:
“Philadelphia is on a strong path toward preserving its NOAH stock. The report is a blueprint not only for the city, but as a national model to improve and expand relationships with NOAH landlords. This report points to a sustainable path toward broader housing affordability throughout the City of Philadelphia,” said Laura Slutsky, Executive Director, ULI Philadelphia.
Building on findings of Philadelphia’s 2018 Housing Action Plan, Housing for Equity: An Action Plan for Philadelphia, the NOAH report leveraged data collection, capacity-building, and financing and subsidy mechanisms to identify action items that the City has initiated to help preserve NOAH.
“This report provides data to show just how critical small landlords are in providing affordable housing,” said Anne Fadullon, Director of the City’s Department of Planning and Development. “A key takeaway is that we need to provide the same level of support for small landlords that we provide for other types of businesses, while also aiding tenants and working to prevent evictions. We are investing in our programs for small landlords, while building new approaches and partnerships – internally and externally; public and private – based on the data provided in this report. We are grateful to ULI Philadelphia and Stepwise Analytics for their partnership in this project.”
The report recommends that the City increase and further target its focus, tools, and attention on neighborhoods on the cusp of, but not yet experiencing, markets where affordable housing options are nonexistent. By prioritizing these neighborhoods, the City will get ahead of upward market pressures and can work with landlords before those pressures become too great to maintain affordability.
The national report panel participants are: