A big Valentine’s Day heart to all those who volunteered or donated funds for a Valentine’s Day Party for 40 male residents of our neighborhood who are experiencing homelessness. We had over 20 volunteers and raised more than sufficient funds to serve a fabulous meal (plus lots of treats and left-overs for the guys) to everyone. Volunteers and residents shared good conversation and sat down for a meal together. Thanks to board member Donna Cordner and her team of volunteers, our local St. Marks Church, where the men sleep at night, was decorated with holiday cheer and the men were each given a Valentines “goody bag” thoughtfully created by our volunteers. We saw big smiles on some struggling faces.
After enjoying Primo’s hoagies, lots of fixings, and desserts galore, the men and volunteers continued the fun with an Eagles themed game of “Topple the Tower”, which reminded everyone of who we toppled last Sunday! It was a huge ice breaker – a game of Eagles Jenga on every table. The room vibrated with groans and cheers as pieces were successfully removed, or the tower toppled. The games were left for the guys to play again, as they enjoyed them so much (and we did, too!).
This event is part of a commitment of CCRA to make our neighborhood a better place to live, work and play, for ALL its residents. We will continue to work with the Bethesda Project to find community-based solutions to reduce homelessness as well as lessen its impact on our neighborhood. If you are interested in joining this initiative in some way (donating clothes, food, time, etc.), please contact board member Barbara Halpern at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today CCRA sent the following letter to Councilman Kenyatta Johnson supporting his bill that seeks to expand the City's LOOP Program:
Dear Councilperson Johnson:
On behalf of the Center City Residents’ Association (CCRA), I write in support of Bill No. 170901 (“the Bill”), which is the latest in a series of amendments expanding the breath and scope of the Tax Exemptions for Longtime Owner-Occupants of Residential Properties Program (otherwise known as “the LOOP Program”).
Realizing that many longtime homeowners of limited economic means – especially seniors on fixed incomes – could be adversely impacted by the City’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI), CCRA has for years been a strong proponent of the LOOP Program, which provides a limited property tax exemption to eligible owner-occupiers on that portion the assessed valuation of their properties which is in excess of three (3) times the previous year’s valuation. For example, last year we supported Bill No. 160012, which removed a 10-year cap on the duration of the tax exemption under the LOOP Program for qualifying middle and low income residents.
It is our understanding that the Bill seeks to further expand the LOOP Program by removing a provision from the law that currently renders homeowners ineligible from participation if their total household income is greater than or equal to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), as established by HUD. As a result, if the Bill is passed, long-term owner-occupiers of real estate in the City will be able to take advantage of the LOOP Program for an indefinite period of time so long as their total household income is less than or equal to 150% of AMI, until their properties are sold, transferred, or are no longer their principal residences.
CCRA supports the Bill for two important reasons. First, the Bill furthers the goal of the LOOP Program to help long-term homeowners in Philadelphia on fixed incomes who experience large increases in the assessed value of their properties from one year to the next. As a result, it will help those residents who may not be in a position to shoulder the economic consequences of gentrification.
Second, the economic impact of the LOOP Program on the City’s finances is relatively small given that existing legislation already provides an annual cap of $20 million, and further provides that if the cap were to be reached in any year, then the respective exemptions would be allocated among all eligible taxpayers on a pro rata basis so that the total taxes exempted under the LOOP Program would never exceed $20 million in that year.
We do recognize that there are some potential areas of abuse. For example, there is the possibility that the City may inadvertently allow some taxpayers with household incomes that somewhat exceed 150% of the AMI to participate in the LOOP Program. In addition, we realize that certain high-income taxpayers who benefit from an informal, unrecorded property transfer may slip through the cracks and improperly be permitted to participate.
However, on balance, CCRA believes that the benefits of the Bill outweigh those potential areas of abuse. We therefore look forward to City Council acting on this legislation.
Wade D. Albert
Read the original letter here.
CCRA’s Government Relations Committee will be hosting a town hall meeting with United States Congressman Dwight E. Evans starting 6:30 P.M., Monday, December 4, 2017 at Plays and Players, 1714 Delancey Place, to tell us what’s happening in Washington. Since November 14, 2016, the Congressman has represented Pennsylvania’s Second District (which includes the CCRA neighborhood) in the US House of Representatives. He is well known in Philadelphia because of his long service (1980 to 2016) in the PA House of Representatives representing West Oak Lane. In the House of Representatives he serves on the Agriculture and the Small Business Committees, and he is Co-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Economic Development and Wealth Creation Task Force.
During his brief tenure in the House of Representatives Congressman Evans has introduced six bills. They are H.R. 922, the Rehabilitation of Historic Schools Act of 2017; H.R. 1702, the Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act of 2017; H.R. 2655, the Small Business Innovation Protection Act of 2017; H.R. 2780, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Cyber Training Act; H.R. 3532, the No Conflict of Interest Presidency Act of 2017; and H.R.3660, the No Federal Funding for Confederate Symbols Act. Two of these bills are in response to the recent national events. H.R. 3532 would require the conversion of the Trump Organization’s businesses, which include real estate, golf courses, hotels, resorts and a range of other investments, into cash, with which President Trump would then be required to buy treasury bills and widely diversified mutual funds, that are considered conflict free under federal law. H.R. 3660, which the Congressman introduced with New York Congressman Adriano Espaillat, would prohibit Federal funds from being used for Confederate symbols on Federal public land. Of the 1,503 remaining symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces, more than 700 Confederate monuments and statues are on public property throughout the country.
The town hall meeting will give the audience an opportunity to discuss a myriad of topics on current legislative issues and other matters important to them.
Maggie Mund, CCRA Streets Committee Chairperson, recently met with representatives of the city’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (OTIS) on a number of issues involving streets in the CCRA footprint. The results of this meeting were the following:
Below is a message from our friends at the Albert M. Greenfield School Home and School Association:
Albert M. Greenfield is your neighborhood public school, serving more than 620 students, grades K-8. The cost of a Greenfield education exceeds what the School District of Philadelphia provides. Greenfield has an incredible Home and School Association (HSA) whose goal is improving our students, our school and our city.
Everything Greenfield HSA does depends on our Annual Fund. This centralized fundraising effort covers the yearly budget for all the things we add to the Greenfield student experience:
Our goal is to raise $100,000 for the Annual Fund by January 1. We ask you as a neighbor to consider making an invaluable investment in our children. When you give to Greenfield you send a message to our community that quality public school education and enrichment matter. Corporate and individual tax-deductible gifts in any amount are deeply appreciated.
To give online with PayPal: click HERE
To give by check: make payable to “Greenfield Home & School Association," and mail to Albert M. Greenfield School, 2200 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Questions? Contact Nicole at email@example.com.
The night of October 24, 2017 brought a large crowd to Beth Zion-Beth Israel to hear Beth Grossman, the Republican candidate for DA, and Larry Krasner, the Democratic candidate for DA, debate the serious issues they will face as the #1 Prosecutor for the City of Philadelphia. Moderated by the esteemed Inquirer political writer, Chris Brennan, Chris was adept at allowing the candidates to clearly distinguish themselves from each other about how they would each handle a myriad of crimes, including Mr. Krasner's reputation as a defender of the the accused and non-prosecutorial experience vs. Ms. Grossman's experience as a prosecutor of the accused. Chris included some audience questions as well. The event was organized by the CCRA Government Relations Committee.
If you missed the debate on Tuesday, October 24, click here to see it in its entirety.
As we previously reported, additional Philadelphia 9th District and Narcotics Field Unit officers this summer have resulted in many arrests. Those officers and arrests continue to this day. Some of these officers are in uniform, many are in plain clothes.
The arrests are now mostly for hydroponic marijuana sales and possession, but also for heroin and crack cocaine. Sums of cash have been confiscated. One search warrant was served. These activities at one point were occurring in an underground area and the officers were able to shut that down. The suspects are varied in age, income levels, backgrounds and where they come from, making the investigations more difficult.
A number of additional bike officers on all shifts are forthcoming and Howl at the Moon (258 south 15th street) hired 2 Philadelphia police officers to patrol on the weekend evenings outside of their business. This establishment has also been instructed to hire more bouncers outside.
It is important that residents are vigilant at all times. A great help to the officers is if you can make note and advise them of specific times, locations and suspects, including what they are wearing, patterns of what's happening when and where, etc. Please call the 9th District's Community Liaison Officer, Officer Mobley, at (215) 686-3090 with such information.
If an incident is occurring in real time, please call 911. If there is no or an unsatisfactory response within a reasonable time, please re-call 911 and ask for a supervisor.
The CCRA Board of Directors has endorsed the Fair Districts PA movement, which is a nonpartisan, citizen-led group working to fight gerrymandering. Redistricting will happen after the 2020 Census, so time is of the essence. Fair Districts PA wants to make the redistricting process impartial, transparent and accountable, by creating an independent citizens’ panel to lead the redistricting effort in an open door process, with clear standards.
To do that, Fair Districts PA is holding information and mobilization sessions.
The next event is October 3rd from 5:30 to 8:30 PM at the Pyramid Club, 1735 Market St, Philadelphia. The featured guest will be Katherine Gehl, former CEO of Gehl Foods and a strong supporter of redistricting reform in her own state of Wisconsin. This is a ticketed event: Tickets - Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America.
Then, on October 6th is Justice and Gerrymandering: Why Redistricting Reform Matters, at the Unitarian Society of Germantown, 6511 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia. The event is from 9am to noon, and will focus on an overview of gerrymandering and the need for reform.
For the past 3 years, CCRA’s Government Relations Committee, particularly Harvey Sacks (CCRA VP of Government Relations) and Matthew Fontana (CCRA Executive Vice President), has been working diligently to stop the protracted idling of CSX trains that block resident access to the Schuylkill River Trail at Locust Street, disturb the use and enjoyment of property for those living in and near the tracks, cause excessive fumes and noise (especially at night), and can cause possible delays in police and other emergency personnel’s reaction time to critical events that occur in and around the trail. The majority of the time, the idling is due to crew changes.
The City has an agreement with CSX that may require CSX to idle the trains further north of the most densely populated areas of Philly, in Belmont Plateau. The City's Legal Department and Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (OTIS) have been willing to work with us to resolve this dilemma and have opened up a line of communications between them and CSX’s legal department.
We have met with a myriad of for and not-for profit entities that also boarder the trail and all are passionate to resolve this issue.
We have been joined in this effort by Logan Square Neighborhood Association, as they have the same issues as relates to Race Street access. Whenever the trains idle, both Race and Locust Streets access points are simultaneously blocked.
After having the City perform a noise study for us and approaching a number of federal agencies that regulate the railroad industry, we have recently approached US Senator Casey and have formally requested he meet with the new CSX president to help find a resolution to the idiling trains. Senator Toomey has also been helpful in prior communication with certain federal agencies.
We will keep you apprised. If you have any information to report or would like to know more please reach out to the CCRA and we will connect you with Harvey or Matt.