PHA Begins Work on Transformation Plan

 (PHILADELPHIA-August 20, 2015) - The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) broke ground today in North Philadelphia on the first phase of the agency's Sharswood/Blumberg Transformation Plan. This plan is PHA's most ambitious and dynamic development plan in nearly a decade.

Groundbreaking Blumberg

The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) broke ground today in North Philadelphia on the first phase of the agency's Sharswood/Blumberg Transformation Plan. This plan is PHA's most ambitious and dynamic development plan in nearly a decade. Fifty-seven affordable rental units will go up on three parcels of vacant land owned by PHA adjacent to the Norman Blumberg Apartments. The housing authority is investing more than $22 million dollars to build these units.

 

The revitalization of this apartment complex will undoubtedly spur the transformation of this neighborhood in North Philadelphia," said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "Under the strong leadership of Mr. Jeremiah, PHA has successfully brought together federal, state and local government as well as private partners to completely change the dynamic in the Sharswood neighborhood. This is a great day for the City of Philadelphia."

Fifty-seven affordable rental units will go up on three parcels of vacant land owned by PHA adjacent to the Norman Blumberg Apartments. This is PHA's first Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD) project. RAD is an affordable housing finance program that was created by the federal government to allow public housing authorities to expand funding options beyond what is provided by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The ceremony took place today at a parcel on the corner of North 24th and Bolton Streets, across the street from the current high-rise site. The other two parcels in the first phase are located at the corners of 22nd and Jefferson Streets, and 24th and Jefferson Streets. The housing authority is investing more than $22 million dollars to build these units.

"Our vision under the transformation plan is to create sustainable, energy efficient, affordable housing, as well as increase critical amenities that will make Sharswood a neighborhood of choice," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah. "PHA cannot do this type of transformative work alone. I'd like to thank HUD, Mayor Nutter, Council President Clarke, all of the Sharswood/Blumberg Transformation Plan partners, and especially the PHA residents and the entire community for their past and continuing support of these efforts."

"This project represents a significant investment in a community that was told, for too long, that it didn't matter. By rebuilding this community and making it safer, and by expanding education and job opportunities for all of its residents, we are demonstrating very clearly that everybody who lives here deserves a chance to succeed," Council President Clarke said. "Congratulations to PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah for reaching the next phase of a bold and aggressive plan to revitalize Sharswood and make it a more vital part of the fabric of Philadelphia." 

In December 2013, HUD awarded a Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) Planning Grant to PHA. The $500,000 planning grant provided the agency with the opportunity to create a transformation plan for the redevelopment of the area stretching north of Girard College, south of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, and between 19th and 27th Streets.  Nearly 40 planning meetings with residents and stakeholders took place to create a blueprint for a thriving, prosperous, self-reliant community.

"Today reminds us that we rebuild neighborhoods with neighbors-with the people who know these places best," said Jane C.W. Vincent, HUD's Regional Administrator for the Mid-Atlantic region. "The transformation of our neighborhoods and communities doesn't happen because of a federal grant alone. It happens when stakeholders who have never worked with each other before, start coming together to build consensus. It happens when these partners work to secure and target funding from different sources-and when they bring innovative, evidence-based solutions to complex problems like crime and underachieving schools. So, I'd like to congratulate the Blumberg Resident Council and all of the stakeholders forPutting the Unity Back into the CommUnity."

The Sharswood/Blumberg Transformation Plan has 10 phases and will yield over 1,200 total housing units with a mix of affordable and market-rate, rental and homeownership units. The restoration of the Ridge Avenue commercial corridor is a major goal of the plan, with businesses that will be anchored by PHA's headquarters and a major supermarket. It will take about 10 years for the agency to complete the transformation of the community with a total investment estimated at $529 million.

The plan represents an alignment of resources and partners across all levels of  government: Federal, in the CNI grant from HUD; State, in a Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) award; and City, in both a HOME grant from the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), and support from the Office of the Mayor and the City Council President. The housing authority is also working with Public Health Management Corporation and Project HOME to provide health and wellness services to the community.

In June, the Philadelphia City Council approved the agency's plan to acquire nearly 1,300 parcels of land, comprised of 800 private and 500 public parcels. The overwhelming majority of those parcels are vacant land or structures.  Approximately 70 structures in the neighborhood or six percent are occupied. This assemblage is critical to the successful completion of the transformation plan and to maintain affordability in the area. 

Further, PHA has established a private partnership with Habitat for Humanity to help nearly 40 long-term residents with home repairs. The agency is also working with small business owners in the neighborhood in partnership with the Santander Bank Foundation and the Enterprise Center. In total, $650,000 in capital and services will be made available under the program to support small businesses on the Ridge Avenue Corridor.