The W Rockland St Project

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W Rockland St Under the Actual Value Initiative (AVI)

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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.
rockland-street.jpg

View from the top of W Rockland St

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.)

A PMBC "Clean Block Contest" judge chats with the Elders of the community, some of the block's longest residents

A PMBC “Clean Block Contest” judge chats with the Elders of the community, some of the block’s longest residents

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).

Me and Mike. Mayor Nutter greets W Rockland St kids in 2011

Me and Mike – Mayor Nutter greets W Rockland Street kids in 2011

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

address
property type estimated property tax % increase estimated 2014 tax rate dollar increase from 2013 rate homestead exemption (as of 2/21)
12 homeowner 55% $929 + $329 Yes
14 homeowner 55% $929 + $329 Yes
15 vacant lot
16 homeowner 40% $839 + $239 Yes
17 homeowner 121% $1,324 + $724 No
18 homeowner 46% $874 + $274 Yes
19 homeowner 122% $922 + $506 Yes
20 homeowner 113% $1,276 + $676 No
21 rental: full house 121% $1,324 + $724 No
22 vacant house 113% $1,276 + $676 No
23 homeowner 122% $922 + $506 Yes
24 rental: full house 112% $1,273 + $673 No
25 homeowner 121% $1,324 + $724 No
26 homeowner 45% $871 + $271 Yes
27 homeowner 54% $922 + $322 Yes
28 rental: full house 112% $1,273 + $673 No
29 homeowner 54% $922 + $322 Yes
30 homeowner 112% $1,273 + $673 No
31 homeowner 121% $1,324 + $724 No
32 homeowner 45% $871 + $271 Yes
33 homeowner 54% $922 + $322 Yes
34 homeowner 112% $1,273 + $673 No
35 homeowner 121% $1,324 + $724 No
36 rental: full house 112% $,1273 + $673 No
37 rental: rooming house 121% $1,324 + $724 No
38 homeowner 46% $874 + $274 Yes
39 homeowner 121% $1,323 + $723 No
40 homeowner 46% $874 + $274 Yes
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
44 homeowner 55% $929 + $629 Yes
45 vacant house 115% $1,288 + $688 No
46 rental: full house 113% $1,276 + $676 No
47 homeowner 54% $921 + $321 Yes
48 homeowner 113% $1,276 + $676 No
49 homeowner 108% $1,250 + $650 Yes
50 rental: converted apartments 113% $1,276 + $676 No
52 homeowner 46% $874 + $274 Yes
54 vacant lot
56 vacant lot
58 rental: full house 113% $1,276 + $676 No
60 lot (owned by 58)
62 homeowner 113% $1,276 + $676 No
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
70 homeowner 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!

Signe Wilkinson | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Signe Wilkinson | The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Author: Emaleigh

Philadelphia admirer. Block Captain. Time Burglar. Communications Consultant. TEDxPhiladelphia organizer. Get the scoop at http://emaleighsays.com.

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