May 12: Tangled title | Council ousts Wells Fargo | Philly’s manhole cover kings

What could block homeowners from qualifying for a home-improvement loan or receive a city repair grant that might stave off displacement? Inga Saffron breaks down the confusing legal mess known as ‘tangled title,’ where, without a clear title that proves they own their home, “low-income residents can’t access crucial city programs that help them stay in their homes at a time when their house prices are rising and taxes are increasing.” Saffron highlights specific cases in Point Breeze while pointing out the greater forces at play, including inheritance taxes, the cultural legacy of families passing down homes “like heirlooms,” and some of the roadblocks and fees in the litigation process.

City Council voted unanimously to approve legislation to remove Wells Fargo as the bank handling the City’s $2 billion payroll and authorize the city to enter into an agreement with Citizens Bank to handle those services, the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Jeff Blumenthal reports. The bill, introduced by Councilmember Cindy Bass in March, “was amended to include Citizens’ community development plan to develop initiatives for low to moderate income families, individuals and minority small businesses.” Wells Fargo and its predecessor banks had this account for decades; statements from Councilmember Bass and City Treasurer Rasheia Johnson differ on whether last September’s fake accounts scandal factored into the city’s decision.

FEMA has denied Pennsylvania’s request for federal disaster aid to help cover more than $7 million in costs associated with March’s snowstorm, PennLive’s Wallace McKelvey reports. Governor Wolf submitted a request for aid earlier this month, laying out costs per county, as well as roughly $70,000 in costs to state agencies.

How many parks, trails, and public spaces are in the works in Philly currently? Curbed Philadelphia has mapped out more than a dozen park projects planned or in various stages of construction or development throughout the city

Artists, thieves, and everyday enthusiasts appreciate the thousands of iron manhole covers throughout the city. The Inquirer’s Jason Nark follows the passion of Rick Spector, a “self-styled ‘Nortonist’ — a person who classifies and catalogs manhole covers.” Spector highlights how some manhole “unlock the long-gone city of industry,” while others’ faded inscriptions reveal forgotten names that “may be written more in the book of Philadelphia than those of Ben Franklin and John Wanamaker.”

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