March 15: Storm aftermath | Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule | Declaration House closes

The skies are looking clearer today and the Nor’easter winds have died down following yesterday’s storm. NewsWorks reports that the Governor cautions that following snowfall, the low temperatures lead to cycles of freezing and thawing. Philly.com covers what to expect with road conditions, public transportation service, utilities, and schools. The City’s Code Blue alert is still in effect due to the cold temperatures. To help someone get shelter, call homeless outreach at 215-232-1984.

Trump’s anticipated budget cuts and federal employee hiring freeze have forced the closure of seven historic attractions at Independence National Historical Park, including Declaration House and Ben Franklin’s home and print shop, the Inquirer reports. “The federal government is the largest employer in Pennsylvania and the second-largest in Philadelphia,” which means the budget cuts trickle down to every function, even two bathrooms that could no longer be maintained.

Fair housing advocates may have a fighting chance with the seemingly toothless and rarely enforced Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule tucked into the Fair Housing Act of 1968. When HUD brought AFFH back into action in 2015 under the Obama administration, it required jurisdictions that receive federal housing funding (including Philadelphia) “to not only document barriers to integration and opportunity, but to detail—and prioritize—policies to eradicate them.” Cities like Philadelphia and New Orleans have implemented the rule to help take on difficult issues of segregation in an inclusive community-based process. Expanding on his fair housing coverage for PlanPhilly, our Jake Blumgart writes for Slate on the historical complexities, opportunities, and limitations of AFFH rule for municipal governments at the local and state level.

Joseph Coradino, the head of PREIT, says that Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia (FOP) at Market East is “on track,” with about 70 percent of the retail, dining, and entertainment spaces in various forms of negotiation. The Inquirer reports that while many brokers are worried that they haven’t heard any announcements of signed leases, Coradino pooh-poohs those concerns, explaining that the larger strategy is to build the demand of the market and present the complete shopping destination package. CBRE executive Larry Steinberg agrees, saying “the necessary market fundamentals are here.”

The midcentury modern Fairmount Park Welcome Center at LOVE Park has been a focal point of tourist selfies, food truck clusters, and dance programming. With LOVE Park’s construction well behind schedule, Curbed Philly takes us through fourteen vintage photos of the historic saucer under construction.

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