宾夕法尼亚大学法学院种族与民事司法倡导事务所(Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic, ARC)的一项新分析报告发现：2008年的第135号法案(Act-135)牺牲了弱势群体房产所有者的利益。
A new analysis by the Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school found that the conservatorships under the 2008 Act-135 law have come at the expense of vulnerable property owners. The law was revised in 2014 and designed to reduce the number of blighted properties in the city. Researchers found that petitions were disproportionately filed against Asian and Black property owners in gentrifying parts of Philadelphia.
“This first-of-its-kind research on Act 135’s impact in Philadelphia is part of the Clinic’s broader mission,” said Ally Johnson. “Ensuring individuals can afford to live in their communities is foundational to the ARC Justice Clinic’s work to support communities in building power to address economic justice, health justice, mass incarceration and over-policing, and education equity issues.”
John Taylor, the former state representative who sponsored the legislation, said he was motivated by the abandoned properties dotting his former Northeast Philadelphia district, including a vacant building next to his office that attracted squatters and crime.
“It’s one of the most effective and underutilized laws in all of Pennsylvania,” said Taylor.
Taylor views Act 135 as preventing blighted homes from impacting the structure and value of the homes around them. But the actual beneficiaries seem to be the non-profit conservators petitioning the courts to take possession of these properties from the owners, rehabbing and reselling them for a profit.
In 2014, Representative John Taylor of the 177th District led legislators to amend the law to encourage—and financially incentivize—developers to file Act 135 petitions and obtain conservatorships.
The incentives appear to have worked; the report reviewed the public docket information for all 577 Act 135 petitions filed from October 2009 to December 2022. Ninety petitions were filed in Philadelphia between 2009 and 2014, roughly 15 per year. After the 2014 amendments, 487 petitions, approximately 60 per year, were filed between January 2015 and December 2022, with 44 percent of all 577 petitions initiated by just two non-profit corporations.
Approximately 26.6 percent of addresses subjected to an Act 135 petition came from a census block group the Reinvestment Fund denotes as “at elevated risk” for displacement, and 32.8 percent came from a census block group the Reinvestment Fund indicates as “at risk” for displacement. These trends are exacerbated by rapid home value appreciation throughout Philadelphia.
Additionally, large investors increasingly purchase single-family homes in Philadelphia to convert into apartments, threatening residents’ ability to build intergenerational wealth and homeownership rates.
The report also found that Asian families owned 11 percent of the properties taken by non-profit conservators. Asians make up approximately 7.8 percent of the population in Philadelphia and make up 7.2 percent of homeowners, according to data from the 2021 Year American Community Survey at the census tract level.
One in four Asian Americans in Philadelphia lives in poverty, the report found. For the Cambodian population, nearly two out of three, or 65 percent, live in low-income households, the highest group in the city above Latinos 64 percent. More than 50 percent of Vietnamese and Chinese Philadelphians also live in low-income households.
One in four Asians pays more than half of their income toward housing costs compared to 16 percent of their white counterparts, putting many on the edge of financial vulnerability.
图片来自The Swarthmore Phoenix
Disparities in homeownership also persist by income group. National CAPACD findings show that low-to-moderate-income Asians, 37 percent are far less likely to own a home than whites, 53 percent of the same income group.
Asians are also more likely than whites to live in a multigenerational household. Asians are four times higher, and NHOPIs are seven times more likely than whites to live in multigenerational households. Although residing in a multigenerational household may sometimes be a cultural choice, out of economic necessity, many AAPIs in multigenerational households face severe housing cost-burdens and overcrowding concerns compared to white households.
When a property is sold through conservatorship, the homeowner theoretically recovers any profits. But a conservator who successfully sells a property can now get back its legal fees and repair costs, plus a fee worth up to 20 percent of the sale price. Even homeowners who fight and get to keep their properties can be on the hook for the conservator’s legal fees. Even homeowners who fight and can save their properties are on the hook for the conservator’s legal fees.
“So, owners who can’t afford to fix their properties can be left with nothing,” said McClellan, the Director of ARC.
胡安·马德里加尔·加西亚(Juan Madrigal Garcia)说:“第135号法案的目标是提高现有居民的‘生活质量’。当经济困难的业主想要修缮他们的房子，但没有资金时，我们最好帮助他们保留他们的房产。政策制定者和政府官员应该团结起来，为业主提供更多资源，这样他们就可以在’被135号法案处理‘之前，修缮自己的房产。”
“Act 135’s goal is to improve the ‘quality of life’ of residents who already live in a neighborhood,” said Juan Madrigal Garcia. “We’d be better off helping disadvantaged owners retain their property when they want to remediate their properties but do not have the resources to do so. Policymakers and government officials should rally to provide more resources to property owners so they can fix their properties before facing an Act 135 petition.”
在第135号法案颁布后，其中一个最活跃的申请机构是非营利组织Scioli Turco。管理主任贝丝·格罗斯曼(Beth Grossman)否认该机构的申请以社区中产化为目标，也否认是出于经济利益。
One of the most prolific Act 135 filers was the non-profit Scioli Turco. Managing Director Beth Grossman denies targeting gentrifying areas or being motivated by profit.
“We are mission-based,” said Grossman. “Our mission is to be here as a resource for community groups to address abandoned, vacant, and blighted properties.”
Elizabeth Shackney, who designed static and interactive maps for the report, said it’s essential to understand the law’s “socio-spatial impact” and highlighted two trends demonstrated in the maps.
First, there are observable concentrations in South Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood and Brewerytown. Second, when overlaying the instances of Act 135 petitions with a neighborhood’s demographic data, there is a concentration of points where demographics transition from majority-white to majority-non-white.
The UPenn report explains Act 135 was created as a mechanism for communities to “transform abandoned and blighted buildings into productive reuse” in order “to modernize, revitalize, grow, and to improve the quality of life for neighbors who are already there.” In passing the Act, the Pennsylvania legislature found that blighted or abandoned properties pose several issues to residents of communities where those properties are located, including the diminishment of property values and increased cost to taxpayers and municipalities to secure and demolish those properties.
“When a law is passed, there is rarely a systemic approach to evaluating its success. It’s important to understand the big-picture impact of attempts to address vacant or blighted property,” said Shackney. “We know there are people who have lost their homes to this policy, and we know it is leveraged in areas that are gentrifying or where there is a risk of displacement. That is a good place to begin assessing whether the law is doing what it intended.”
“Despite Act 135’s original purpose to encourage community-led property development,” said McClellan. “The data analysis evidences that Act 135 petitions disproportionately impact Asian American and Black property owners and communities experiencing gentrification in Philadelphia. We think it is important to consider strategies and tools to ensure that vulnerable Act 135 respondents receive needed support to restore their property rather than face displacement.”
This report comes on the heels of a proposal pushed by the building trades and 76ers Dev. Corp will move the 76ers into Center City on the doorstep of Chinatown, which residents fear could displace Chinese residents and business owners at a time when Asians are already being displaced in other parts of Philadelphia. Housing costs continue to rise throughout the city.
Home equity remains important in generational wealth building and stabilizing a household’s financial future. Housing counseling services are critical given the growing income and wealth inequality. According to data from the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances, the median net worth for a white household nationally is $171,000. For nonwhite households, the median net worth is $103,100, with black households having a median net worth amounting to $17,600, Latino families with $20,700, and other racial groups with $64,800. Aggregate numbers from the Federal Reserve fail to capture the nuances between other nonwhite racial and ethnic groups.
The model minority stereotype paints Asian Americans as wealthy and highly educated. Ethnic variations among AAPI communities show specific subgroups have lower home equity than others. According to a National CAPACD study, “Chinese-born Asians have the highest and Philippine-born and Southeast Asians have the lower home equity within ethnic variations.”
As the AAPI population continues to grow rapidly in the United States against the backdrop of increasing racial income and wealth inequality, government agencies and foundations need to shift their work in the next decade to address these gaps and be more inclusive. The following recommendations inform, provide insights, and engage funders and the more extensive housing and financial fields on improving access to AAPI homeownership.
Larger, more established intermediaries need to partner with networks like National CAPACD at the local level to serve better and understand the experiences of low-income AAPI populations.
Government agencies and funders in the housing industry need to provide resources to adequately address the needs of marginalized AAPI communities along with other communities of color. HUD and municipalities should set aside funding to train and increase the number of housing counselors with professional cultural competency and language capacity to ensure that persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) have quality access to housing counseling, financial well-being, and other related services.
Many studies on the racial wealth divide either exclude AAPIs (often rendering them invisible) or lump more than 40 ethnic groups into an aggregate category of AAPIs, framing them as doing as well as or better than whites or the general population.
The cost per client for high-needs populations is very different when they have specific language needs. Funders tend to place value on the volume of clients served versus the quality of services provided in a culturally competent and meaningful way. The work done by housing counselors is resource-intensive but is not valued or documented in the data. Understanding best practices for reaching underserved communities through language, culture, and community outreach strategies and activities is essential.
Financial capability programs should be developed and funded to address the growth of immigrant and renter populations, particularly how they might create new demands for affordable and accessible housing. The financial and housing fields primarily focus on homeownership, creating a scenario where services for renters are often underfunded.
These are just a handful of things that can be done to improve homeownership in the AAPI community. On the other end of the spectrum, Act 135 needs to de-incentivize Non-profits from taking the homes of poor, marginalized families or provide a buffer of funding to the families and communities at risk of losing their homes under this law to make the home repairs necessary to be able to keep their homes.