Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Education and Slumlords

From this recent Philadelinquency piece:
Gentrification pressure in Philly affects less than 1/3 of the city’s total surface area and its rate of expansion is mostly kept in check by our horrible public schools above all other things.  And if anything, our public schools now suck more than ever; public opinion regarding the SDP has reached its lowest levels imaginable.

That basically means all of the gentrification we see in Philadelphia is missing a major factor that would cause it to explode here:  schools.   Everyone who has kids here either leaves Philadelphia or finds some other solution around the schools problem in order to stay here—or just doesn’t have kids.  Those with their kids in the School District of Philadelphia are either lucky their children are in one of the few performing schools the District has, or their kids are at the mercy of a system they can’t avoid.  That puts definite limits on the homebuying populations for sure.

You only have to look no further than the Penn Alexander School to see what fixing schools does to house prices:  parents pack into the school catchment which caused the area around Penn Alexander to shoot up a $100K prevailing premium over areas of West Philly just outside the school catchment.

But also consider this:   There are 4.4 million people living in Philly’s collar county suburbs and only 1.5 million living in the city proper.  If schools were suddenly fixed tomorrow, it’s likely that the cheapest homes in Mantua would be $450K.   Chew on that for a minute.  Your cheap house is mostly riding on the back of shitty schools keeping the bulk of parents who have means away.
Also note my response to this quote:
Now, about your suburban slumlord who smells the gentrification coming towards his rental property he was renting out for $600/mo and collecting a string of code violations on for a decade who might decide to sell his house to a rehabber and cash out, leaving that rental at the sake of increasing valuations?  Nobody has come up with a solution for that yet.
The shitty slumlords are the problem. And a major irony of our current land-use policies is that they, perversely, empower shitty slumlords at the expense of conscientious local landlords.

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