Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. announced Monday that Philadelphia was one of six cities in the running for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Choice Neighborhood” grant, which would gift the city with $30 million to help improve distressed neighborhoods.
With the funding, the Philadelphia Housing Authority could lead a coalition in the redevelopment of the neighborhoods near SEPTA’s Temple University rail station.
HUD requires each contesting city to have a plan, which is referred to as the Transformation Plan. In addition to guiding the cities’ public housing units’ revitalization, these plans are meant to address how to improve educational outcomes, intergenerational mobility, and encourage reinvestments in distressed neighborhoods to offer more safety, good schools, and commercial activities.
The North Central Philadelphia plan–Philly’s own Transformation Plan–includes the demolition of the Housing Authority’s Norris Apartments, and constructing a mixed-income rental apartment complex there. The plan also includes the construction of 297 new units of affordable housing throughout the entire neighborhood. According to Sen. Casey, the plans for the area a reflection of “a local strategy and not something arrived at in Washington.”
The city would spend $20 million of the $30 million on public housing upgrades, saving the rest for educational opportunities, improved support services, and critical upgrades to commercial corridors.
“This grant has the potential to improve Philadelphia’s economy and help to transform this neighborhood,” said Sen. Casey. “Transforming our neighborhoods is the first step towards a growing economy and job creation.”
Mayor Michael Nutter said that the grant’s money would “enable the city to implement a comprehensive revitalization strategy of housing, jobs, education and services. HUD’s investment, coupled with local, state and private funding, will have a truly transformative effect on North Central Philadelphia.”
“The federal grant would bring 300 homes, 600 construction jobs, 300 permanent jobs, services and education initiatives to North Central Philadelphia,” explains Chirag Patel, Marketing Director at Post Brothers Apartments. “It is a perfect example how public-private initiatives can transform Philadelphia for its residents.
Philadelphia will have to wait for between three to six months whether the North Central project will receive the funding or not.
Nilda Ruiz, president of the nonprofit organization that developed the North Central project, said “It’s about connections, leading residents to jobs, services and education.”