Affordable & Equitable Philadelphia
In my administration, every city department will have an anti-poverty plan, and we will use every tool in the toolbox to create diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods with affordable housing, access to transit, good schools, and family-sustaining jobs.
Together we will
Duplicate successful affordable housing models and develop our own voucher program.
Invest in housing preservation and scale up home repair programs.
Expand income-based payments, benefits access, and basic income pilot programs
Record Clearing & Expungement – Over 400,000 Philadelphians with a criminal record have paid their debt to society but have been sentenced to poverty. We can stop the cycle of incarceration by connecting returning citizens with opportunities for training and jobs.
Poverty Reduction and Prevention: Evidence Based Interventions to Stabilize Families and Communities
“When I was appointed to co-chair Council’s Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention, I said that I didn’t want to produce just another report about poverty in Philadelphia – I wanted an action plan.”
As Councilmember, Maria led the creation of the Poverty Action Plan, secured a $10 million down payment to fund its first efforts in the FY 21 Budget, leading directly to the creation of The Promise, Philadelphia’s public-private partnership with United Way to lift families out of poverty
As Mayor, Maria will build on the early success of The Promise and bring the resources of every city department to the goal of lifting 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty.
These action steps help stabilize individual families, and also inject millions into our local economy by maximizing the flow of federal benefits and growing our local workforce.
Family Stability & Benefits Access – Every year, Philadelphians leave millions on the table because they don’t access the benefits they’re eligible for. With outreach and assistance we are bringing those dollars to the families that need them.
Fair Bills: Income-Based Payment Plans
“Growing up in Hunting Park, my first experience providing constituent services was helping my neighbors translate the bills. I watched every month as they determined which bill they could afford to pay. No one wants to live like that. As Councilmember, I championed programs to change our bureaucracy and give people bills they can afford to pay. This is an investment we make in working families so they can stay in their homes and keep their families together.”
When we give people bills they can afford, and a pathway to compliance, we stabilize families and neighborhoods while helping our city’s balance sheet. On Council, Maria championed income-based payment plans because people should live lives of dignity even if they’re poor.
Through these programs, the city invests in working families, helping them stay in their homes and neighborhoods and build generational wealth by preserving homeownership. Additionally, when we give folks the ability to comply, we increase our overall collection rates and generate more revenue for the city.
Affordable Water Bills (TAP) – Maria worked with the Water Department and the Nutter and Kenney administrations to create TAP, our internationally recognized program to give people affordable, fixed-rate bills based on their income, as low as $12/month. Maria also created a pathway for debt forgiveness for customers who make their payments for two years.
LOOP, OOPA, Homestead, and Senior Tax Freeze – Maria has championed programs to reduce the tax burden on low-income homeowners and keep families in their homes and neighborhoods.
Direct Rental Assistance & Basic Income – The pandemic gave us the opportunity to pilot bold anti-poverty strategies to provide direct cash assistance and guaranteed income to low-income Philadelphians. These strategies eliminate layers of bureaucracy and are some of the most empowering anti-poverty strategies we have.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING & MIXED INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS
“Diverse, mixed-income communities don’t happen by accident. Intentional public policy can support growth without displacing long-term residents so that all Philadelphians can access safe, affordable housing close to transit, great schools, and familysustaining jobs.”
Affordable housing is one of Philadelphia’s greatest areas of opportunity. We have a history of high levels of homeownership among communities of color, a significant inventory of publicly-owned land and vacant property, and a vibrant housing development and advocacy community. We also face high construction costs, the impact of out-of-town speculators, high rates of poverty and homelessness, and the impending potential loss of thousands of affordable units expiring in the coming years.
As Councilmember, Maria developed internationally recognized programs to keep families in their homes and promote affordable housing development. This vast array of “tools in the toolbox” provide support for lowincome homeowners as well as renters, and incentivize the preservation of affordable units in the private rental market.
As Mayor, she will set a bold agenda, using innovative strategies and diverse partnerships to drastically increase our affordable housing stock and ensure equitable development in our neighborhoods.
FIXED RATE HOUSING: A NEW AFFORDABLE MODEL FOR PHILADELPHIA
“As a nonprofit executive at 27, I learned how to design a major development project, and as Councilmember I uncovered every available channel for financing affordable development. Philadelphia can do more, and as Mayor I will propose a new model for affordable development.”
As Mayor, Maria will propose a city housing voucher program, customized for Philadelphia’s unique population needs and housing stock. Through a partialdirect subsidy, we can offer housing for families that they can afford at a fixed, predictable rent. The landlord benefits from the stable payment, and the tenant gets a home they can afford at a reliable, fixed rent.
MIXED INCOME COMMUNITIES: TOOLS IN THE TOOLBOX
Inclusionary Zoning – Maria believes that every single new development in Philadelphia should include an affordable component. On Council, she was the first to propose citywide mandatory inclusionary zoning and authored Philadelphia’s boldest affordability requirements in the 7th Council District. She created the Mixed Income Housing Bonus, which now brings millions into the Housing Trust Fund annually.
Neighborhood Preservation Initiative (NPI) – Part of the $400 million Black Stimulus Package, NPI is a tremendous investment in neighborhood stabilization. NPI funds home repairs, eviction diversion, affordable housing development, neighborhood commercial corridor improvements, adaptive repairs for Philadelphians with disabilities, neighborhood infrastructure repairs (clearing alleyways and fixing retaining walls), assistance for first-time homebuyers, navigating tangled title, supports for small landlords to make repairs, and direct rental assistance.
Transit-Oriented Development – Maria represented 10 El stops, and pioneered the use of TransitOriented Development, strategically upzoning to support more density and accessible housing along transit corridors. As Mayor, she will coordinate every city department to spur equitable development along transit corridors.
Community-Driven Remapping – Maria led Council in proactively remapping the 7th District, centering community input to modernize the zoning code, cut red tape, and welcome reinvestment at a scale that preserves neighborhood character and protects long-term residents. As Mayor, she will provide necessary resources for the Department of Planning and Development to better support remapping efforts citywide.
Making the Land Bank Work – In an historic victory, Maria created the Philadelphia Land Bank to return abandoned properties to the community and bring them back to life. As Mayor, she will fully fund Land Bank operations so this innovative solution can truly be put to work for all Philadelphians.
Land Sale Reform – On Council, Maria cut through red tape to make public land sales more accessible and community-focused. Our vacant land is more than a figure on a balance sheet, it’s our community heritage. We must prioritize community land sales to limit the influence of out-of-town speculators and allow long-term residents to realize the value of their sweat equity caring for vacant lots over the years.
Housing Preservation – Given the costs of new construction, preserving existing affordable housing is by far the most cost-effective way to maintain affordability citywide. In partnership with IMPACT Services in McPherson Square, Maria developed an innovative housing preservation pilot to subsidize repairs that preserve affordable housing units in targeted areas. As Mayor, she will direct the Department of Housing and Community Development to expand similar partnerships citywide and grow our capacity to preserve affordable units.
Repair, Restore, Renew – Maria fought for $100 million in funding to expand Philadelphia’s home repair program. Repairing homes is proven to make communities safer, block by block, and as Mayor, Maria will invest in expanding this program to reduce the waitlist and speed up repairs to serve as many Philadelphians as possible in every zip code.
Diversion Interventions for Foreclosure and Eviction- The most affordable house is the one you live in already. On Council, Maria has pushed to expand diversion programs which intervene before a family loses their home, whether they rent or own. As Mayor, she will expand financial supports for families who are navigating housing transitions.