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CLS Testimony on Philadelphia Tax Exemptions for Long-time Owner Occupants (LOOP)

Homeownership and Consumer

CLS Testimony on Philadelphia Tax Exemptions for Long-time Owner Occupants (LOOP)

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CLS Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit Attorney Montgomery Wilson gave the following testimony before Philadelphia City Council on February 21, 2019.

Testimony in support of Bill No. 18-110300 - Amending Chapter 19-3900 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Tax Exemptions for Longtime Owner-Occupants of Residential Properties,” to revise the standards for eligibility and the benefit determination, under certain terms and conditions.

Good morning members of City Council. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today in support of Bill 18-110300, amending the Long-time Owner-Occupant Program (LOOP) law. Community Legal Services (CLS) has been advocating for years on behalf of low-income residential homeowners who are struggling with delinquent property taxes or who are facing a tax foreclosure.  I appreciate City Council’s on-going efforts to help preserve what is often a Philadelphia family’s most valuable asset: their home.   Each year, CLS represents or advises hundreds of low-income homeowners in Philadelphia. In 2018,we advised over 430 people just seeking advice about their property taxes or a tax foreclosure; up from 279 people in 2017.  Property taxes are now the No. 1 issue that we see on intake at our North Philadelphia office, and the third most frequent issue we see overall.  An increasing number of these cases involve homeowners who are struggling because the assessed value of their property has dramatically increased – people like my client Linda Gerald who is here today.

Community Legal Services (CLS) strongly supports this Bill. We agree that the law should be amended to allow homeowners like Linda Gerald, who face an increase in the certified market value of their homes greater than 50%, to cap that increase at a flat 50%. This will help reduce the negative impact of gentrification and development on long-time homeowners, particularly senior citizens living on a fixed income. It will also extend the deadline for homeowners who missed the original deadline to apply for LOOP in 2014 (the year of the dramatic A.V.I increases) to retroactively allow them to apply for LOOP and apply the 300% “cap” to any increases from their home’s 2014 assessed value.  

I urge the City Council to vote in favor of this Bill.