HELEN’S AGENDAHelen’s platform is built off these fundamental principles:
- A Quality Public School for Every Child
- Housing as a Human Right
- A Fair Share Economy for All
- Our Connected City
- Philadelphia’s Green New Deal
- A 21st Century Civil Rights Mandate
In 2019 and beyond, Helen will be leading the progressive agenda for change in one of the nation’s largest cities.
MODERNIZE OUR SCHOOLS
I’m pushing for a huge investment in facilities and a 21st Century School – it’s about our children’s lives and our city’s future. It’s ridiculous that our kids’ learning is shortchanged every September and June because of sweeping heat waves that either close schools or make learning unbearable. It’s time to end toxic environments of lead, asbestos and mold in school classrooms. We need modern buildings that can handle air conditioning and climate control so our kids’ learning isn’t dependent on the weather. We need green roofs and upgraded electrical grids to handle technology and demand sustainability. We need to show our residents, families, and business leaders that this is a city that will invest in our most precious resource – our kids.
END THE 10-YEAR TAX ABATEMENT
I’ve introduced the most comprehensive package of bills to end the 10-year tax abatement as we know it. This program, which forgives property taxes for 10 years for new construction, is the biggest tax subsidy program in our city and the most generous in the nation. No other city allows such a program with no restrictions, and today it fuels inequitable development and starves our schools of needed funds. There’s no reason a $19 million condominium should go property-tax free for 10 years. It’s time to put our city on a smarter path to equitable growth.
With nearly half of Philadelphians leasing their homes, we need new laws in place to protect renters. From City Council, I’ve driven a housing-first, anti-poverty agenda that has reduced eviction filings by 20 percent. Now I’m focused on establishing a right to counsel for renters in landlord-tenant court so we can avoid default eviction judgments. I’m pushing to pilot rent subsidies and municipal vouchers to keep low-income tenants in their homes and out of our $40,000/year per person shelter system. We need to talk about rent stabilization in rapidly gentrifying areas and work with landlords to improve affordable housing options.
MAKE TRANSIT AFFORDABLE AND EFFICIENT
Nothing is more valuable a resource to our economy and our region than a modern transit system. SEPTA’s fare system – charging transfer fees, charging children starting at age five – makes little sense and is counterproductive to building lifelong riders. We need to make transit more affordable by eliminating transfer fees and expanding access for young people to ride SEPTA for free or at lower fares. I’m pursuing a regional dialogue around SEPTA to expand possibilities for broader public investment and growth.
PHILADELPHIA’S GREEN NEW DEAL
Our environmental crisis is here and it’s urgent. In the poorest big city in the nation, Philadelphia needs a Green New Deal that ends environmental racism and addresses health disparities in low-income communities of color. I’m starting with upgrading our public buildings and engaging in smart city practices around street cleaning, recycling and waste reduction.