I am John Elliott Churchville, President & CEO of Northwest CLT Corporation, a
nonprofit Community Land Trust and community-based housing development
organization in the Germantown/Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia.
Our mission is to provide decent, affordable rental and homeownership
opportunities for low- and moderate-income people, while preserving the quality and affordability of these apartments and homes for future residents. Our vision is to facilitate the creation of wealth for low- and moderate-income renters and homeowners by offering combined rent, land lease, and mortgage payments that do not exceed 30% of their monthly gross income. This will allow them to save, invest, and/or build up equity in their own homes.
Last year Northwest CLT Corporation offered five (5) specific policy recommendations and practices that should be put into the Consolidated Plan. First, we indicated that its major goal should be Racial Equity as a response to government inequitable housing policies that are responsible for the current housing crisis. Second, we suggested that its efforts be focused on developing and equipping community-based housing development organizations that are led by Black and other People of Color. Third, we urged that the Plan require the shifting of power, the taking of risks, and the building of trust. Fourth, that it bridge communities, initiatives, and sectors; and Fifth, that it stay the new course and commit resources for the long haul.
This year, Northwest CLT Corporation recommends that the Consolidated Plan
implement four (4) specific policy priorities that take advantage of synergies that exist between affordable housing development, workforce development, and mixed-
use, mixed-income commercial development.
The first policy priority must be the restoration of owner-occupied dwellings of
older residents throughout the City. This restoration should first focus on shoring up
roofs so that solar panels or green roofs can be installed. Tied to this initiative must
be a workforce development training program that equips unemployed people to
install solar panels and other energy-efficient systems for these homes.
The tri-partite rationale for this first policy priority is to: 1) keep older homeowners
in their homes (which stabilizes neighborhoods); 2) provide job opportunities for the
unemployed (including returning citizens) at living wages; and 3) incentivize for-
profit developers to take on this work and hire those trained to do it (e.g., for every 10 homes environmentally refitted, developers would receive points that can be used
when they bid on redevelopment projects or develop newbuild projects).
The second policy priority must be to rehabilitate and environmentally upgrade
affordable multi-family dwellings in currently neglected neighborhoods (e.g., East
Germantown, where vacant multi-family structures abound). Connected to this
priority must be a plan to attract businesses to commercial corridors in Northwest
Philadelphia that will motivate for-profit developers to build mixed-use, mixed-
income high rises in these neighborhoods. One low-hanging fruit will be neighborhood stabilization. This policy priority will require the City of Philadelphia to create a modern zoning process that increases both height and density allowances in the context of creating new green spaces, treescapes, and other green amenities that bring a feeling of calm and beauty to older neighborhoods without displacing current residents.
The third policy priority must be to increase technical and financial support for
housing counseling programs throughout the City. Northwest CLT Corporation does
not provide housing counseling, but we understand that it is vital to our work to
create decent, affordable housing. Housing counselors are overworked and
underpaid for the important service that they render to our potential clients. Indeed,
they are the first responders to the affordable housing crisis, and their work must be
The fourth policy priority must be to ramp up technical and financial support for
community land trusts. These policy priorities, in the order presented would: 1)
stabilize already existing neighborhoods; 2) produce a relevantly-trained workforce;
3) create jobs at a living wage; 4) add value to the important and necessary service
that well-trained housing counselors offer; 5) attract new businesses and residents to
the City without displacing long-term residents; 6) create more affordable housing
for those who need it most; and 7) incentivize for-profit developers to produce more
affordable housing within the context of creating their desired market-rate projects.
Taking advantage of the synergies that already exist between affordable housing
development, workforce development, and mixed-use, mixed-income commercial
development will leverage the funding streams for each, and create efficiencies that
will benefit all the residents of Philadelphia.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this testimony related to Philadelphia’s
Consolidated Annual Performance Review and Evaluation Report (CAPER).
For a full PDF version of the statement, click below...