- Real estate developers looking for
property in Philadelphia will soon have some new inventory to
The federal government has approved a request by the
Philadelphia Housing Authority to sell off nearly 1,800 vacant
houses and lots it owns. PHA executive director Carl Greene said
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will need
about another 60 days to complete its detailed process, and once
that's done PHA will list the available properties and begin
"We won't know the level of interest until we begin the bidding
process. Most of the interest in these properties will come from
private developers, but we also know some nonprofit organizations
and individuals may be attracted as well. Anyone can put in a bid,"
He noted, however, that with the lack of liquidity in the market
the demand may not be great. "Considering the number of properties
involved, it may take years to dispose of them all," Greene
PHA oversees the professional management of about 32,000
occupied affordable housing units in Philadelphia through its
public housing developments and Housing Choice Voucher Program. The
properties in question are homes and lots PHA is not funded to
maintain, so rather than leave them vacant and in disrepair Greene
is hopeful other organizations can make good use of them.
"We have rebuilt numerous distressed neighborhoods, and even now
we have several developments underway or due to start soon. We
anticipate that other developers will use these properties to begin
projects that complement PHA's ongoing efforts," he said.
The houses to be sold are scattered throughout the city, but the
largest numbers are located in North, West and Southwest
Philadelphia. The sale does not affect any of PHA's owned and
Like almost all public housing authorities across the nation,
PHA saw its operating and capital funding dramatically reduced from
2003 to 2008. The agency has leaned on private investment through
the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to fuel its ongoing
construction program, and in January 2007 it had to deeply reduce
operating expenses, including a restructuring that included the
lay-offs of 350 workers. The sale of these properties is a part of
Nevertheless, the agency still serves 81,000 residents through
its public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs. It plans to
open two more newly constructed sites this year, Mantua Square in
West Philadelphia and Warnock Apartments in North Philadelphia.
In addition, the agency is using $90 million in stimulus money
to totally rehab 300 scattered site homes, rebuild the burned
Plymouth Hall senior building and make major energy system upgrades
at several older developments.
PHA initially received the scattered site properties following
the foreclosure crises of the 1960's and 70's as the closing of
factories and the movement away from urban areas of major cities
left thousands of homes vacant.
"I hope as we cope with this foreclosure crisis that the federal
government won't repeat the mistakes it made decades ago. At that
time, HUD turned over properties to PHA without the resources to
care for them. This time programs have been set up with the intent
of making things different."