City council considers new construction tax to benefit affordable housing

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke is hailing a package of legislation he says will strengthen the city's middle class by helping people struggling with rising housing costs and the barriers so many face in their quest for homeownership.

The plan, he says, will increase the city's housing stock and encourage diversity. A major feature includes a one percent tax on the cost of construction, due at the time the building permit is issued.

"We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to live in a nice neighborhood," said Clarke.

That one percent tax they believe will generate $25 million a year, to be split between affordable housing production and a new down payment assistance program.

"We can assure the residents of the city of Philadelphia that we want everybody on the same boat and everybody rising at the same time," said Councilperson Maria Quinones-Sanchez.

The plan has been hashed out behind closed doors for months and it appears activists and developer groups are ready to live with it.

"While the redevelopment of this great metropolis is positive, it is time to ensure the benefits of this building boom are shared by all," said Leo Addimando.

The new package of affordable housing measures will be introduced in city council Thursday. The current plan is to have it voted onto the books by the end of May.

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