2019: A Year of Many Achievements

Year End 1

PHA recently capped off 2019 with a grand opening for the first factory-built homes in Sharswood, the Blumberg 83 development, one week before Christmas. These beautiful, new sustainable, cost-efficient homes represent the ongoing progress in rebuilding a long neglected neighborhood in North Philadelphia.
 

 Year End 2
 At the beginning of 2019, PHA celebrated the completion of its new headquarters building, also in Sharswood, at 2013 Ridge Avenue in late January. This new edifice serves as an anchor along the Ridge Avenue commercial corridor and is a landmark and beacon in which residents can take pride.

(Philadelphia, PA - December 30, 2019) - As 2019 comes to a close, the staff and employees of the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) can take pride in a year of tremendous achievements.

"The agency made substantial progress in real estate development, notably in fulfilling the latest phases of the Sharswood Transformation plan, in reconfiguring its scattered sites portfolio, and service to both young and old residents," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah. He also noted that PHA developments once again were honored by their peers.

PHA recently capped off 2019 with a grand opening for the first factory-built homes in Sharswood, the Blumberg 83 development, one week before Christmas. These beautiful, new sustainable, cost-efficient homes represent the ongoing progress in rebuilding a long neglected neighborhood in North Philadelphia. At the beginning of the year, the housing authority celebrated the completion of its new headquarters building, also in Sharswood, at 2013 Ridge Avenue in late January. This new edifice serves as an anchor along the Ridge Avenue commercial corridor and is a landmark and beacon in which residents can take pride.

Two months later, PHA celebrated the rehabilitation of Sharswood Tower, a senior residence, and the only high rise still standing from the former Blumberg development.  The tower is the tallest building around for one mile and has become a landmark for the area.

PHA successfully auctioned 144 long term vacant scattered site properties in June as it reconfigured and right-sized its scattered sites portfolio. The sales generated $8.4 million to be channeled toward building modern, new affordable housing while putting the vacant properties back on the tax rolls.

The housing authority made the decision in October to redevelop the West Park Apartments complex by selling part of the site while redeveloping the rest with modern, low-rise housing. PHA will rehabilitate one high-rise for seniors, similar to what was done in Sharswood. The plan is to reconnect the site to the rest of the neighborhood while maintaining affordable housing units in a community with a hot real estate market. The sale will also generate much needed revenue for redevelopment and avoid costly repairs that would take PHA years to complete, yet still not bring them up to modern standards.

The redevelopment of the Vaux Community Building, an EnVision Center demonstration site, is now 95 percent complete. The site now hosts a range of services to PHA residents and the broader community. The building houses PHA's Workforce Development Center for those seeking self-sufficiency and ten site partners offering health, dental, and financial services, plus job training and after school program. PhillySEEDs, Inc. honored 70 PHA residents seeking higher education with $258,000 in scholarships in July. A total of almost $1.6 million has now been awarded to 413 residents since this program began in 2013.  Money for the scholarships comes from PHA's operating budget and funds donated by employees, program supporters, and vendors.

Service to seniors improved in August as Lyft launched the Grocery Access Program in Philadelphia, in partnership with PHA and Uplift Solutions. The program assists North Philadelphia residents living in food deserts with fresh, healthy grocery options. It offers local families living in areas surrounding PHA sites throughout North Philadelphia a $2.50 flat rate fare on eight rides per month - or one round trip per week - to and from nearby grocery stores.

Also in August, PHA partnered with the Urban Affairs Coalition to help seniors become better acquainted with digital technology through the "Fix IT" program. Young people showed seniors how to go online for services and access programs such as Facebook. This program connected local tech-savvy youth with older adults at several locations. Participating youth learned STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and entrepreneurial skills.

In November, PHA added service to people with disability through the Mainstream Voucher Program. A HUD grant award allows the housing authority to serve 74 more people. Philadelphia has the highest rate of disability among large U-S cities. With this award, PHA now has 293 vouchers to assist these individuals. More recently, PHA received another 25 VASH vouchers to serve veterans with affordable housing.

PHA was honored several times over by its peers.
Norris Apartments Phase II, part of the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Plan in the North Central neighborhood, received awards from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), the Pennsylvania Association of Housing and Redevelopment Agencies (PAHRA), and 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, the leading statewide and regional voice for creating great places to live and work. The Pennsylvania Apartment Association recognized Plymouth Hall and Queen Lane Apartments for Maintenance Excellence in the "Best in Apartment Living" awards run by the Association.