federal program that has given the Philadelphia Housing Authority
the flexibility to rebuild numerous neighborhoods in the city has
been extended for another ten years.
Without the extension of the Moving to Work program, PHA could have
lost tens of millions of dollars needed to continue its housing
redevelopment program and to provide programs and services to
Final agreement on the deal was delayed for months by a dispute
between PHA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development over wheel-chair accessible housing.
Although PHA manages substantially more accessible homes than the
federal government requires, HUD contended that not all of those
homes meet precise new standards.
"We couldn't be happier with this outcome. The agreement means
another ten years of funding flexibility that comes with the Moving
to Work program," said PHA Executive Director Carl Greene. "The
fact that we have been lauded by groups who serve disabled citizens
speaks to our commitment to serving this population."
PHA has agreed to drop its federal court case in which it claimed
HUD retaliated against the housing authority when PHA refused to
turn land over at nominal cost to a private developer favored by
former HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson. PHA has also agreed to a new
reporting requirement so that it will certify that its accessible
homes meet the new standard.
Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey held several conversations
with the new HUD secretary, Steve Preston, to urge him to take a
fresh look at the dispute. Those efforts proved successful.
Under the MTW program, PHA is able to use some funds from the
Housing Choice Voucher program for other purposes, such as building
new affordable housing and providing training for low-income
clients to help them up and out of subsidized housing. PHA has
taken advantage of its participation in the program to rebuild
distressed neighborhoods, and to transform the Housing Choice
Voucher program into one that works for low-income families while
balancing the needs of communities.
With the help of MTW, PHA has also
been able to invest in technology and innovative programs, allowing
the agency to reduce its workforce from 2,500 in 2000 to 1,130
today, while serving more families.
"Failure to sign a new agreement would
have meant an end to most of our construction activity and a move
backward to the one-size-fits-all public housing of the past,"
Director Greene said. "We are glad to put this disagreement
behind us, and we appreciate the opportunity the new agreement
gives us to advance a program that helps low-income residents
become self-sufficient and promotes Philadelphia's urban