Now that data is available for the Nutter administration’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI), it’s time to take a look at how the city’s new property tax assessments will impact the tiny Unit Block of W Rockland Street, home to forty-six century-old row homes on W Rockland St. The estimates below are based on AxisPhilly’s property tax map, which shows how taxes would change for most properties if Philadelphia City Council passes a tax rate of 1.34% and a $30,000 Homestead Exemption.
W ROCKLAND STREET IN A NUTSHELL
- Property types include homeowners, full house market rate rentals, row homes converted into full apartments, rooming houses, and full house subsidized rentals, which breaks down to twenty-eight owner-occupied households and fifteen rental properties (all types). Three properties are currently vacant, a new and unfortunate development.
- The rentals are divided into: nine full house rentals (three market rate; five Section 8 – PHA/Housing Choice Voucher subsidies); two rooming house apartments (full house, not converted); and four houses converted into apartments.
- There are six vacant lots – all maintained by block residents. St. Francis of Assisi Parish (now closed) and The DePaul Catholic School are also part of the block, at the corner of W Rockland and Greene Streets. The two properties are owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
WHAT AVI LOOKS LIKE ON W ROCKLAND
2013 property tax bills for W Rockland St were listed at $600 for just about every house. In 2014, every property on the block will see an increase under the new AVI. It’s appears that property assessments are still considerably off, both on the low and high end, as property conditions vary dramatically throughout the block. I am less interested in the “actual value” per se, and most curious about tax percentages and dollar increases.
Thirty-one W Rockland St households will see property taxes increase by 91 – 112%, while fifteen households will see taxes rise by 40 – 55%, according to 2013 to 2014 estimates.
Of the forty-six total units, sixteen households were approved for Homestead Exemption, which is only available for owner-occupied properties. Those approved for exemption will see tax increases of 40 – 120%, up from 2013 with an average increase ranging from $239 – 650.
As of Feb. 21, there are thirteen households on the block that did not receive Homestead Exemption (that are not rental properties), either because the property owners were ineligible or didn’t apply. Rental and owner-occupied households not eligible for Homestead will see tax increases of 91 – 122%, up from 2013 with an average increase of $544 – 724. (You can still apply for Homestead Exemption through July 31, 2013 online or by calling 215-686-9200.)
It is important to note that W Rockland St, located in SW Germantown, is a low-income block with many residents living below poverty level, a high number of retirees and senior homeowners, and nonworking families. Based on our knowledge of the block, it is easy to see the divide in the chart. The W Rockland St households approved for Homestead Exemption as of now are nearly all long-term residents of 20+ years, working or middle-class, and consistently engaged in block-wide civic activities. These residents would by nature and opportunity be more aware of major city initiatives, like AVI and tax relief efforts.
For neighborhood perspective, according to U.S. Census data, the median household income in Germantown is $29,849 and 28.2 % of citizens live below poverty level (zipcode: 19144).
Since they are ineligible for Homestead, the block’s rental properties will see the highest property tax increases. It is very unclear how the rise in tax will affect rental rates, particularly among privately-owned rentals subsidized by the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Housing Choice Voucher program. Will rents rise on W Rockland St to accommodate changes? Will the price be absorbed by the property owner or the tenant? Will PHA adjust the dollar amount of voucher assistance to accommodate rent increases? We are left with many questions on this front.
Having been woefully under-accessed for years, we agree with the reasoning behind the Actual Value Initiative, and do not think the figures above are outrageous. Still, the estimated adjustments give pause for concern considering the demographics of our community.
BY THE NUMBERS
||property type||estimated property tax % increase||estimated 2014 tax rate||dollar increase from 2013 rate||homestead exemption (as of 2/21)|
|21||rental: full house||121%||$1,324||+ $724||No|
|22||vacant house||113%||$1,276||+ $676||No|
|24||rental: full house||112%||$1,273||+ $673||No|
|28||rental: full house||112%||$1,273||+ $673||No|
|36||rental: full house||112%||$,1273||+ $673||No|
|37||rental: rooming house||121%||$1,324||+ $724||No|
|41||rental: rooming house||121%||$1,323||+ $723||No|
|42||rental: full house||113%||$1,276||+ $676||No|
|43||rental: full house||121%||$1,323||+ $723||No|
|45||vacant house||115%||$1,288||+ $688||No|
|46||rental: full house||113%||$1,276||+ $676||No|
|50||rental: converted apartments||113%||$1,276||+ $676||No|
|58||rental: full house||113%||$1,276||+ $676||No|
|60||lot (owned by 58)|
|64||rental: full house||113%||$1,276||+ $676||No|
|66||rental: converted apartments||91%||$1,144||+ $544||No|
|68||vacant house||113%||$1,276||+ $676||No|
|72||rental: converted apartments||91%||$1,144||+ $544||No|
|74||rental: converted apartments||93%||$1,158||+ $558||No|
ACTUAL VALUE INITIATIVE READING LIST. OMG!
- *NEW* For thousands, homestead exemption a big secret by Jan Ransom | Philadelphia Daily News
- *NEW* Mapping where homestead exemption applications lag | AxisPhilly
- The Tipping Point by Isaiah Thompson | AxisPhilly
- Philadelphia real estate agents nervously await the effect of new property assessments | Philadelphia Inquirer
- Taxipedia by Holly Otterbein | NewsWorks WHYY
- Inquirer Editorial: Don’t jump the gun with AVI adjustments
- A Shaken Tax Landscape by Troy Graham and Dylan Purcell | Philadelphia Inquirer
- Some neighborhoods struggling with likely huge tax increases by Aubrey Whelan | Philadelphia Inquirer
- In some neighborhoods, relief at the new assessment plan by Aubrey Whelan | Philadelphia Inquirer
- Philadelphia Daily News – AVI coverage