PHA & Habitat for Humanity to Preserve and Build More Homes in Sharswood

(Philadelphia, PA - August 5, 2016)  - To demonstrate its commitment to keep existing homeowners in the community, The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) today announced a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia to expand a successful home repair program aimed at helping Sharswood homeowners remain in the Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood. Members of the community strongly indicated they wanted Habitat to be a partner in the process. PHA responded to those calls by naming Habitat as a partner in the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant for Sharswood/Blumberg.

PHA and Habitat are also expanding the partnership to develop new affordable homes for sale in Sharswood, to attract and retain lower-income families to the community. This partnership helps achieve some of the housing goals of the Sharswood/Blumberg Transformation Plan that PHA previously unveiled.  

The work expands the Sharswood Preservation Home Repair program to serve 30 additional homeowners in the neighborhood. Under the program that began a year ago, 11 homeowners received extensive critical repairs for their homes. Repair needs determined through home evaluations by Habitat covered a wide range including roofing, heating, electric and plumbing, exterior, and structural work to insure the integrity of the homes. PHA covers the cost of materials while Habitat provides the labor. Homeowners provide sweat equity by assisting in the repairs, and they repay a percentage of the cost based on a sliding scale determined by income.

The historic Sharswood/Blumberg Neighborhood Transformation Plan calls for a mix of market rate and affordable housing in the community. Like residents in many of Philadelphia's transitioning neighborhoods, Sharswood residents feared the prospect of being pushed out as the community develops and rents, housing prices, and taxes rise. The PHA-Habitat collaboration is aimed at preventing that from happening here.

"We committed to existing homeowners in Sharswood from the beginning of the planning process. We told them that we planned to work with another quality, affordable housing provider in Habitat for Humanity of Philadelphia," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah. "This partnership has proven fruitful and we believe that it can become more so as we add working class homes for sale to the mix as well as helping long-time homeowners remain in place."

"Just in restoring the 11 homes in our pilot project, members of the community have already seen and felt the impact of our collaboration with PHA," said Habitat Executive Director Frank Monaghan.  "Now, with the opportunity to join with families to build 20 new homes in Sharswood and restore 30 more we are well on our way to helping PHA achieve its goal of ensuring that working class families, and lower income homeowners will be proud residents of Sharswood as it rebuilds."

Habitat Philadelphia will identify families eligible to buy the 20 new homes that they and PHA will develop for sale in the neighborhood. PHA may recommend families, specifically those who were relocated from the neighborhood and want to return. Accepted applicants must fulfill 350 hours of "sweat equity" that includes volunteering at construction sites, working at Habitat's ReStore (a discount home improvement store in South Philadelphia), and participating in required homeowner workshops. The profits from ReStore help support the home repair and homeownership programs.

Habitat homes built under this program will be two stories with three bedrooms and one and one-half baths and basements. Homes will likely be around 1,200 square feet with rear yards. All of the new homes will be built to Energy Star rated construction standards making them affordable for purchase, and to maintain and operate. Construction will begin by the fourth quarter of this year with the completion of all 20 homes by the end of 2018.