Philadelphia Awarded $30M Choice Neighborhood Grant

Grant will help neighborhood implement North Central Philadelphia's transformation plan to create jobs, housing and opportunities for residents.

(Philadelphia, PA - June 30, 2014) - Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that Philadelphia was awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to revitalize the neighborhood of North Central Philadelphia. 

"This is an exciting day for the residents of the North Central neighborhood and the entire City of Philadelphia.  This grant is critical to our comprehensive revitalization strategy - it will help us to address many of the serious challenges facing this community: poverty, unemployment, poor educational attainment and decreased opportunities for residents," said Mayor Nutter.  "I know that HUD's investment will help us transform this community and acting as a lightning rod for even more investment from local, state and private sources.  I am looking forward to seeing the impact this grant will have for North Central and our entire City and I want to thank all of our partners for their commitment to this project."

In total, Philadelphia's Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant funding will create 300 new units of housing, including 147 new and refurbished units at the Norris Apartments site, 600 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs. Additionally, the City will leverage the grant funding to generate $125 million in federal, state, other public and private funds.

"This funding provides local leaders with the resources to turn their plans into a reality," said Jemine Bryon, Acting Assistant Secretary of HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. "An environment or zip code should not determine a child's future. We want to give every person access to ladders of opportunity by supporting efforts that tackle problems and unlock potential in distressed areas."

Senator Casey commented, "I'm very pleased that Philadelphia has been awarded this competitive grant, which has the potential to improve the local economy and help to transform this neighborhood. I weighed in with HUD about Philadelphia's strong application, and I'm glad they also saw the great opportunity this neighborhood presents for economic growth and job creation."

Council President Darrell Clarke said, "The Choice Neighborhoods grant will be an important catalyst for revitalization efforts already under way in North Central Philadelphia. I am grateful to HUD for making this significant investment in our shared vision for better affordable housing and services for the residents of this neighborhood. Community involvement is and always has been key to this process. I congratulate all parties involved in securing the Choice Neighborhood grant."

To obtain the grant, the City worked with more than forty partners, including the School District of Philadelphia, Temple University, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), the Philadelphia Police Department, local leaders and community stakeholders through the Office of Community Housing and Development to create the resident-driven North Central Philadelphia transformation plan. 

"This grant is one of the most significant investments in affordable housing by the federal government in Philadelphia in recent years. This important grant will enable PHA and the City to invest in affordable housing and gives us a roadmap to build stronger, safer, more vibrant and sustainable communities," said Kelvin Jeremiah, President and CEO, PHA. "I am especially grateful to Secretary Donovan, Senator Bob Casey, Mayor Nutter, Council President Clarke and our City and Local partners for their steadfast support. This accomplishment would have not been possible without the planning, dedication and investment in time and resources from our great partners."

Nilda Ruiz, President and CEO, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, Inc. (APM), added, "Providing quality social services and community economic development is vital to change a community. This grant gives the opportunity for the private and public sectors to work together to positively influence the quality of life for current residents and future generations."

The Choice Neighborhoods program supports locally driven strategies to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. The program is designed to stimulate critical improvements in neighborhood assets, including vacant property, housing, services and schools.

Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants focus on three core areas:

  • Housing: Replace existing distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality, mixed-income, energy-efficient housing;
  • People: Increase access to or create new services and supports delivered directly to youth and their families to improve education outcomes and intergenerational mobility within the community; and 
  • Neighborhood: Support the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in North Central, including safety, good schools and commercial activity.

"This Neighborhood Choice grant will improve the life chances for thousands of Philadelphians who will be brought into the revitalization and prosperity of our city," said Congressman Chaka Fattah. "I am extremely pleased to see the North Central Philadelphia community - and its dedicated partners - recognized for their vision of a brighter future for this neighborhood. I have been an advocate of this program and every year I have fought for its funding. I am proud to see these funds come home today."

A series of community meetings identified the following resident priorities: more job training and opportunities; reduced crime and increased neighborhood safety; elimination of trash-strewn vacant land; and high-quality educational resources. The North Central Philadelphia transformation plan will address all of these areas of concern.

Corridor investments will enhance the economic vitality of the neighborhood by linking residents to assets such as transit, retail, parks and schools. Streetscape amenities - sidewalk repairs, lighting, bus shelters and tree planting - will beautify corridors, improve neighborhood safety, and create a healthier and more sustainable urban environment. Neighborhood walk-ability, new recreational opportunities and health initiatives will improve both the physical and mental health of community residents. A revolving loan fund provided by Philadelphia LISC will help to fill vacancies and attract mixed use development to the Germantown Avenue commercial corridor.

Partners such as the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Village of Arts and Humanities will expand existing programs to turn derelict lots into productive and attractive spaces, while targeted infill housing will replace vacant lots with new housing. In all, over 700 lots will be greened or developed.

Education initiatives led by Temple University and other partners will increase and improve pre-K opportunities, provide intensive and targeted education supports to neighborhood schools, offer additional educational programming to students, help close the digital divide, and assist high school students as they prepare for college or the workforce after graduation. The workforce and education center will provide the space required to offer a full range of job training, educational and employment placement counseling programs and services. The Reinvestment Fund, Econsult Solutions and Temple University will lead a rigorous evaluation process to ensure that the strategic initiatives in the Transformation Plan remain on target.

"Previous strategic City investments have improved sections of the neighborhood," said Deborah McColloch, Director of the City's Office of Housing and Community Development. "With this grant and the funding it will leverage, our successes to date will be expanded to include the entire community."


Click here for more information on the Office of Housing and Community Development and the Transformation Plan.

Click here for more information on the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant.