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FOUR FREEDOMS HOUSE PHILADELPHIA v. PHILADELPHIA (06/28/71)

decided: June 28, 1971.

FOUR FREEDOMS HOUSE OF PHILADELPHIA, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
PHILADELPHIA



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, March T., 1968, No. 1998, in case of Four Freedoms House of Philadelphia, Inc. v. City of Philadelphia.

COUNSEL

Irwin Paul, for appellant.

Karl I. Schofield, Deputy City Solicitor, with him John B. Day, Assistant City Solicitor, Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., First Deputy City Solicitor, and Levy Anderson, City Solicitor, for City of Philadelphia, appellee.

A. Martin Herring, with him M. H. Goldstein, Leonard M. Sagot, and Ettinger, Poserina, Silverman, Dubin, Anapol & Sagot, for intervenor.

Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Eagen dissents. Mr. Chief Justice Bell took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Jones

[ 443 Pa. Page 216]

This is an appeal from an order of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas which affirmed the decision of the Philadelphia Board of Revision of Taxes denying the application presented by Four Freedoms House of Philadelphia, Inc., appellant, for exemption from Philadelphia real estate taxes.

Appellant, a nonprofit corporation created by labor union impetus to provide low-cost housing for the aged, owns the premises in question, a twelve-story structure containing 280 units (studio and one-bedroom apartments). Besides the apartments, the building has a lobby, a doctor's office, a beauty parlor, storage space,

[ 443 Pa. Page 217]

    coin-operated washing machines, a social room and a library for the use of the tenants. Construction was financed by a 100% federal mortgage pursuant to Section 202 of the Housing Act of 1959. In order to qualify as a tenant, a person must be over sixty-two, in good health and with a limited income of $4,500.00 per annum per single person, $5,400.00 for married couples and $6,600.00 for two persons. Applications for tenancy are processed by the Four Freedoms Management Corporation in the order received, without priority and without regard for race, religion or sex. Rent varies from $74.00 to $104.00 per month, depending on the size and location of the apartment. As found by the court below, appellant's officers and directors "serve without compensation, and the corporation can never accumulate a profit as all excess monies must go into the Federal Government Reserve Fund for debt service and mortgage amortization."*fn*

Our analysis begins with Article VIII, section 2(a), of the Pennsylvania Constitution: "(a) The General Assembly may by law exempt from taxation: . . . (v) Institutions of purely public charity, but in the case of any real property tax exemptions only that portion of real property of such institution which is actually and regularly used for the purpose of the institution." Accordingly, the General Assembly enacted The General County Assessment Law, Act of May 22, 1933, P. L. 853, art. II, § 204, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5020-204, which exempts, inter alia, from local taxation: "(c) All hospitals, universities, colleges, seminaries academies, associations and institutions of learning, benevolence,

[ 443 Pa. Page 218]

    or charity, including fire and rescue stations, with the grounds thereto annexed and necessary for the occupancy and enjoyment of the same, founded, endowed, and maintained by public or private charity: Provided, That the entire revenue derived by the same be applied to the support and to increase the efficiency and facilities thereof, the repair and the necessary increase of grounds and buildings thereof, and for no other purpose; . . . (i) All real property owned by one or more institutions of purely public charity, used and occupied partly by such owner or owners and partly by other institutions of purely public charity, and necessary for the occupancy and enjoyment of such institutions so using it." Bearing in mind these ...


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