Clarke Unveils Plan For Affordable Housing In Gentrifying Philly Neighborhoods

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Council President Darrell Clarke today unveiled a plan to build 1,500 affordable housing units in gentrifying neighborhoods like Francisville, Point Breeze and Mantua by redeveloping city-owned vacant land or tax-delinquent properties.

One thousand of the units will be rentals and would take advantage of two underused financing tools, Clarke said: operational subsidies for affordable housing from the Philadelphia Housing Authority and a tax credit from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

The city would also need to issue a $100 million bond to be paid for by the Housing Trust Fund, which currently supports other programs.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Clarke-unveils-plan-for-affordable-housing-in-gentrifying-neighborhoods.html#o1ssZ08Syqt3eBBK.99

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Open For Risky Business: Philadelphia’s Vacant Properties

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With its broken plywood door and faded graffiti, the former hosiery mill on Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia’s Fishtown section is a contrast to the quarter-million-dollar townhouses and upscale lofts nearby.

1101 Frankford is not just a four-story eyesore, says Thomas Fasone, who owns an antique lighting shop next door. He rates it a magnet for trouble.

“It’s so easy to get into these buildings,” says Fasone, who has complained to the city. “They can go in to keep warm, start a fire, do drugs, fall asleep, and a fire breaks out.”

The place is supposed to be sealed. But on two recent visits, an Inquirer reporter found it open. The owners have problems, too. One of them, a Drexel Hill man, is accused of dealing marijuana

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20140310_Open_for_risky_business__Phila__s_vacant_properties.html#5hYIOdF5lTCuGBHK.99

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Philly Fires 13 Part-Timers For Double-Dipping

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department has fired or accepted resignations from 13 part-time workers after an investigation found that they had violated rules against double-dipping in public employment.

Ten were schoolteachers, two were U.S. Postal Service employees and one worked for the state Attorney General’s Office. All 13 lost their part-time gigs with the city as assistant recreation-center leaders, but may keep their full-time jobs.

None of the fired workers appear to be accused of holding “no-show” positions or failing to fulfill their responsibilities in both jobs.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20140103_City_fires_13_part-timers_for_double-dipping.html#KUefjX46dMcM2GtA.99

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A Plan To Address Philadelphia’s Staggering Poverty

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In an unusually frank document, the city has laid out stark statistical descriptions of poverty in Philadelphia, accompanied by a plan to try to deal with the problem.

The Shared Prosperity Philadelphia plan, presented Thursday at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia, states that at a “staggering 28 percent,” the poverty rate here is the highest among the nation’s 10 largest cities.  More than 430,000 of the city’s 1,547,600 residents live below the federal poverty line, the report points out.  The poverty line ranges from $11,490 for a single person to $23,550 for a family of four.

Further, black and Latino Philadelphians are twice as likely to be poor as whites.  “Most distressing,” the report continues, “39 percent of Philadelphia’s children are poor.”

Poverty is a “persistent and devastating problem” in Philadelphia, and holds back many residents, Mayor Nutter said at the event.  “We may never benefit from their knowledge and abilities because they will never have the chance to develop their talent,” he said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130712_City_outlines_plan_to_deal_with_poverty.html#pqtpEKGxsieZayRO.99

Homicides On Track For 45-Year Low In Philadelphia

Homicides in Philadelphia in 2013 are on pace for the lowest midyear total in nearly half a century, police figures show, putting the city in reach of a modern-day low at year’s end.

As of Friday, with three days left in the six-month period, police had recorded 115 homicides, a 38 percent drop from the same period last year.

The half-year figures are a promising sign for a city that in recent years has held the dubious distinction of being the nation’s most violent big city.

Mayor Nutter, top police officials, and prosecutors, along with criminal-justice experts, say the decrease in homicides reflects a new emphasis on data-driven policing, a crackdown on gun criminals, and sweeping reforms in the criminal courts.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130630_Homicides_on_track_for_45-year_low_in_Philadelphia.html#WveCycR2JxYQ9MoR.99

Changing Skyline: Philly Steering Toward Bike Sharing

Philadelphia didn’t need Bicycling magazine to confirm that it is one of America’s best biking cities (No. 17 on its 2012 list).  You can see it every day on the streets:

Near northeast corner, May 2005.

Near northeast corner, May 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The steady stream of commuters sluicing down Center City‘s bike lanes.  The tangle of bikes hitched to U-shaped racks and bike corrals.  (More, please.)  The proliferation of neighborhood bike shops.

Philadelphia probably could have ranked higher in the magazine’s esteem if it had a bike-sharing program, like most of the list’s top 20 cities.  You can now find cheap, on-street bike rentals in more than 135 places around the world, many of them with worse weather and hillier streets than Philadelphia.  Yet the city has remained strangely ambivalent toward the concept, even as private bikes have become a popular transit option within the city.

But the sight of Mayor Nutter tooling around Rittenhouse Square last week on a canary-yellow cruiser suggests Philadelphia is finally ready to commit.  To show the city’s seriousness, his Transportation Department organized a daylong bike-sharing demonstration with three top vendors, supplying a docking-station’s worth of bikes in paint-box colors.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20130510_Changing_Skyline__City_steering_toward_bike_sharing.html#oeXi4rzPYwBAAXdv.99

Crime Has Some Thinking Twice About Philly Life

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BORN-AND-RAISED Philadelphian Danielle Harvey never really saw herself moving away from her hometown.

Then, last spring, she witnessed a shooting at the same bus stop where she had been robbed about a month before.

Harvey, 24, who worked at a law office in Center City, said that she was able to shake off the robbery, in which her phone was stolen and pockets rifled through at a bus stop outside Frankford’s Margaret-Orthodox El station.

“You live in the city, this stuff happens,” she said.  “That made me think this city is getting a little tiring to live in, but I never really imagined myself being somebody who could move.”

Then, about a month later, as she waited at the same bus stop, a man across the street from where she stood was shot in the neck.

“[The shooting] was pretty much the thing that more or less sealed it for me thinking I should get out of here,” she said.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130225_Crime_has_some_thinking_twice_about_Philly_life.html

Philadelphia, Suburbs Emerge From Sandy

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The scene at the corner of Chelten and Wissahickon avenues in Philadelphia said it all: A blue mountain bike, badly mangled and turned upside down, but still somehow tethered to a bicycle rack.

The city and its suburbs emerged shaken but largely intact Tuesday morning, after taking a night’s beating from Sandy’s high winds and rain. Some people remained in shelters, but waterways were receding in certain areas, and many residents were coming outside to survey the damage and take a deep breath of relief.

Travel remained challenging, with downed power lines and trees closing streets. SEPTA began resuming services at noon, hoping to bring the system to full strength piece by piece. Shopping malls planned to reopen Tuesday, though an estimated 1.2 million were without power across Pennsylvania.

A Peco spokesperson said total outages for Southeastern Pennsylvania reached more than 800,000 at the height of the storm, shattering previous records, and as of Tuesday morning 585,000 were without service. Restoration could take days.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20121030_Philadelphia__suburbs_emerge_from_Sandy.html

Deal Will Keep Sunoco’s Philadelphia Refinery Operating

Sunoco Inc.‘s Philadelphia refinery, which was threatened with closure at the end of this month, will be reborn as an “energy hub.”

The Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C., private-equity manager, announced plans Monday to operate the refinery with Sunoco as a joint venture called Philadelphia Energy Solutions. The venture will save 850 jobs at the refinery, the largest fuel-production plant in the northeastern United States, and may employ hundreds more if plans to expand production are realized.

Carlyle officials say they are “reimagining” the business to exploit new, cheaper domestic sources of crude oil to replace expensive imported petroleum, a major reason the refinery was uncompetitive. In September, Sunoco announced plans to exit refining and to sell or shut down the plant this summer, saying it was losing a million dollars a day on fuel production.

Carlyle, which will have a majority interest in the venture and operate the refinery, also plans to increase dramatically the use of low-priced natural gas from Pennsylvania’s booming Marcellus Shale region to reduce refining costs and emissions.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20120702_Deal_reported_to_keep_Sunoco_s_Philadelphia_refinery_operating.html

Disgraceful Behavior From SEPTA Union President Willie Brown

The President of SEPTA’s largest union, Local 234, has resorted to name calling and is refusing to meet with Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter.

Willie Brown is calling Mayor Nutter “Little Caesar” and is refusing to include the mayor in any future negotiations.  Brown is deferring to former mayor and now governor, Ed Rendell instead and leaving the current mayor of our largest city out in the cold.

This behavior is counterproductive and frankly immature.

The only people who suffer are the riders of SEPTA.