Newsletter: 🗳 Primary & 🏠 property taxes & 📝📅 plenty of action items!

Weekly Newsletter, Issue 181


Did you get your mail-in ballot but are unsure what to fill in? Here are our picks for the primaries and ballot questions.


  • Paul Prescod for the 8th Senate District
  • Marylouise Isaacson for the 175th House District
  • Joe Hohenstein for the 177th House District
  • Jonathan Lovitz for the 182nd House District
  • Elizabeth Fiedler for the 184th House District
  • Andre Carroll for the 201st House District

Read our Endorsement Press Release to see why our members chose these candidates.

Ballot Question Recommendations

  • Question 1: Vote NO to increase the Zoning Board of Adjustment from five to seven members.

    The 5th Square Steering Committee believes this is an effort for City Council to grab more power over zoning, worsening the negative effects of councilmanic prerogative and leading to less housing and more car-centric development across Philadelphia.
    Read more about this issue in Billy Penn.

  • Question 4: Vote YES to make the City’s Fair Housing Commission permanent.


The 2023 reassessed property values are now online at, and will be mailed out by September of this year. The Inquirer reported that residential property values rose by 31% on average and Axios reported an increase of 21% in all property values. The residential property values are dependent on the neighborhood, like Brewerytown, so the distribution of increase varies widely. While the Philadelphia Business Journal states that there is a slight increase of housing stock in 2022, prices are still high.

Philadelphia 3.0 covers the topic more in-depth in a recent blog post. It has an analysis of the economic rammifications for the city, the advantages and pitfalls of tax relief programs, and more. Check it out!

Photo: thejaan, CC BY 2.0

COVID-19 has continued to impact residents financially and homeowners may be in shock. If this is potentially hazardous to you or your neighbors, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia has some tips that may help. They suggest the following:

  • See if you qualify for Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP), which was designed for homeowners who have lived in their home for at least 10 years, and have seen their home’s assessed value increase by at least 50%.
  • If you do not qualify for LOOP, you should enroll in the Homestead Exemption Program. This program is available for every Philadelphia homeowner, including people who are dealing with tangled titles, except for people who are enrolled in LOOP.
  • You can enroll in Senior Freeze if you are 65 or older and you are low-income (less than $33,500 for a household of 1 or $41,500 for a household of 2). You can be enrolled in the Senior Freeze and the Homestead Exemption Program at the same time, so be sure to apply for both.
  • Homeowners can also apply for the Senior Tax Rebate, which appplies to people 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
  • You can enroll in an Owner-Occupied Payment Agreement (OOPA) if you have a tax delinquency or can’t afford to pay your taxes.

Make sure to reach out to your neighbors that own their houses, especially those that are low income or older, and see if they need to apply. CLS has a flyer on Twitter that you could print and give to people on your block.


The bus network is about to undergo an entire rework. Many of the preliminary reports for each bus route mentioned having to deal with city traffic. Lots of cities implement bus only lanes and city planners here have their eyes on a few key corridors. The best way to guarantee that we will have fast bus travel in the city is to tell the City that we want bus lanes!

Bus only lanes in New York City and Washington DC.
(Courtesy C. Boggan & B. Osborne)


We still need your help. Every dollar helps us work with elected officials and candidates to make the case for structural improvements for a more sustainable, walkable, and bicycle-friendly Philadelphia!

Become a 5th Square member TODAY

Annual Subscriber, $60 per yearMonthly Subscriber, $5 per monthOne Year of Membership, Starting at $60


PennDOT is conducting a survey for the I-95 Girard Interchange. This covers Allegheny Avenue south through the Interstate 676 Interchange at Race Street. Project sections GR5 and GR6 (covered in this survey) will rebuild northbound and southbound I-95 between Frankford Avenue and Race Street, make surface street improvements under and alongside I-95, and redesign PennDOT-owned spaces under and adjacent to I-95.

PennDOT is holding a virtual meeting room for the Interstate 95 Central and South Philadelphia (I-95 CSP) Planning Study from April 15 through May 15. The Planning Study will provide Philadelphia residents and stakeholders the opportunity to explore the study materials and share their comments, questions, and concerns with the project team. Those who are unable to access the virtual meeting room materials at home or the local public library, who have special needs that require individual attention or require translation services, please e-mail [email protected] or call the Construction Helpline at 215-513-1399.



Philadelphia Inquirer / With less funding, Philly’s city parks rank worse nationally


Bridging Blocks: Should I Park Here?

Thursday, May 12th from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Di Silvestro Rec Center (1701 S 15th St)

WHYY, in conjunction with the Free Library of Philadelphia, is presenting a "Bridging Blocks" conversation about a perenially contentious topic--parking. With people parking in the Broad Street median, illegally reserving spots on the street with lawn chairs, blocked sidewalks, and PPA being a public enemy, this is a topic worth discussing. Registration is required. Masks are mandatory.

Reimagining Regional Rail Virtual Public Meeting

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at 6:30 PM

SEPTA and the Regional Rail staff will be discussing new rail options and are looking for comments and suggestions from riders and non-riders. Direct registration link here.

5th Square Dinner Cruise

Wednesday, May 18 at 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Spirit of Philadelphia at Penn's Landing (401 S Christopher Columbus Blvd)

Join members of 5th Square for a casual social dinner cruise. Dine, dance and take in the amazing views aboard Spirit of Philadelphia. Departing from Penn’s Landing, this dinner cruise on the Delaware River lets you relax and enjoy the beauty of Philly’s historic waterfront. If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, please tell us ahead of time so we can inform the boat coordinator. Tickets are $30 for members and $60 for non-members, which includes a year membership.

The Ride of Silence Philadelphia

Wednesday, May 18th, 6:45 P.M.
Meet at the North side of the Philadelphia City Hall at the intersection of North Broad Street and JFK Blvd.

The purposes of this silent ride are to honor cyclists killed/injured in motor vehicle related accidents and to raise awareness about the rights of cyclists to ride the roads. A brief pre-ride dedication ceremony will take place at 6:45 PM and the 10 mile per hour ride will start promptly at 7:00 P.M. It will circle City Hall, continue to Independence Hall, through Center City, and head over to West Philly via the Walnut St. Bridge. The ride will then end in the front of the Philadelphia Art Museum for the traditional bike lift in silence. The length of the ride is 7 miles long and is expected to be 1 hour. Helmets and appropriate COVID 19 prevention precaution measures are required and bicycle lights are encouraged. For more info, contact the BCGP at [email protected]

Philadelphia Refinery Legacy Remediation / Evergreen Public Meeting: "Fate & Transport"

May 24, 2022 06:00 PM (virtual)

Evergreen Resources Group, LLC (Evergreen) is hosting its 2nd quarter public meeting on Tuesday, May 24th at 6:00 PM. During this virtual meeting, participants will learn about the basics of "Fate and Transport," interact with others in breakout groups, and learn about updates on the legacy remediation (cleanup) of the Philadelphia Refinery.



Jeremy Nowak - Reinvestment Fund Gap Year Fellowship

The fellowship supports a 2021 or upcoming 2022 college graduate, contemplating graduate school, in an academic and career pursuit that gives honor to Jeremy’s interests and pursuits. The Fellowship will last one year, with an option for a second year. It begins in Summer 2022. The fellowship is designed to offer the recipient an opportunity to gain a year (or two) of experience before an expected return to higher education. The best applicants will display excellent communications, analytic and organizational skills. We are looking for a Fellow either in the Lending & Investing, Policy Solutions or Capacity-Building & Capital Access Programs group; in all instances, the Fellow would have the opportunity to gain exposure to all parts of Reinvestment Fund.

Applicants should submit the following: (1) an essay of no more than 1000 words; (2) resume; (3) transcript; (4) two letters of support. The essay should express how the applicant’s life history, experiences, academic interests, and career aspirations connect with the work of Jeremy Nowak, as described above. It should also express how time at Reinvestment Fund fits within the applicant’s future plans. We will interview a set of finalists before a final selection is made.

All questions and submissions should be directed to: [email protected]. The deadline for submissions is 5:00 p.m. EST, May 16, 2022.


Endorsed candidate Jonathan Lovitz, who is running for the 182nd district in Center City, is looking for people to help phone bank in time for the election on May 17th. It will be quite a tight race, so he will need all the support he can get. If you're unfamiliar with him or missed our candidate meet and greet, check out his questionnaire responses.

Another of our endorsed candidates, State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, has many opportunities to volunteer. There is a virtual phone banking with a training session via Zoom, canvassing days until May 15th, and a Get Out the Vote event on the 17th.

The East Coast Greenway Alliance is still in need of volunteers for the NYC-to-Philly Ride Closing Ceremonies at the Great Plaza by Penns Landing (the amphitheater space on the Delaware River) on Sunday, May 15th from 11:00am to 4:00pm with shifts of 2-4 hours. Volunteers all get a free t-shirt and food, and you get to meet supporters of greenways and trails from across the region and country (all in search of good Philly bike / enjoyment recommendations post-ride)!
To volunteer for the closing ceremonies, use this Google Form and select "yes" for "Closing Ceremonies (Philadelphia): Sunday, May 15th, 11:00am to 4:00pm. Variety of shifts, ranging from 2 to 4 hours each" and complete the form.


South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) / Programs Manager

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) / Transportation Planner

Habitat for Humanity

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism / Program Director, Next Mayor Project

BBG Inc. / Project Coordinator

Milk Jawn / Ice Cream Maker

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