The Philadelphia Housing Authority Wednesday celebrated the completion of the first phase of the agency’s Sharswood/Blumberg Transformation, PHA’s initiative to create sustainable, energy efficient and affordable housing.
The ceremony took place at North 24th and Oxford Streets, across the street from the former site of the high-rise Blumberg Apartments.
“The revitalization of this long-neglected neighborhood will contribute in a major way to the transformation of North Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “PHA has successfully brought together the federal, state and city governments, as well as private partners to reinvigorate Sharswood. Ultimately, we hope to see a thriving community, including business formation along the nearby Ridge Avenue corridor.”
Fifty-seven affordable rental homes were built on three parcels of vacant land owned by PHA adjacent to the site where the Blumberg Apartments formerly stood. All the high-rises except for one senior building were demolished last March.
The other two parcels in the first phase are located at the corners of 22nd and Jefferson Streets, and 24th and Jefferson Streets. The housing authority is investing more than $22 million to build these units.
“Today we are delivering on the first part of our promise to this neighborhood to create sustainable, energy efficient, affordable housing, while increasing critical amenities to make Sharswood a neighborhood of choice,” said PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah. “I’d like to thank HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Mayor Kenney, Council President Clarke, all of our Sharswood/Blumberg Transformation Plan partners, and especially the PHA residents and the entire community for their past and continuing support of these efforts.”
“The community-based approach to planning this development is why we are hopeful it will succeed,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. “When residents have confidence that their concerns are being heard and that they will be supported, they will work just as hard as the builders and engineers to maximize every opportunity affordable housing can provide: a safe place to raise children, get an education, get job training, and work toward self-sufficiency.”
In December 2013, HUD awarded a Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant to PHA.
The $500,000 planning grant provided the agency with the opportunity to create a transformation plan for the redevelopment of the area stretching north of Girard College, south of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, and between 19th and 27th Streets.
More than 40 planning meetings with residents and stakeholders took place to create a blueprint for a thriving, prosperous, self-reliant community.
“Congratulations to the PHA team and all the partners who have worked diligently to bring the Sharswood/Blumberg transformation plan to life,” said Jane C.W. Vincent, HUD’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. “We are seeing the results of life-changing efforts like the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which have given a significant boost to the revitalization of this neighborhood and the preservation of affordable housing.”
This development is PHA’s first Rental Assistance Demonstration program project. RAD is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rental housing preservation strategy, allowing public housing authorities and owners of HUD-assisted properties to leverage public and private financing to maintain affordable housing in communities.
The Sharswood/Blumberg Transformation Plan has 10 phases and will yield over 1,200 total housing units with a mix of affordable and market-rate, rental, and homeownership units.
The restoration of the Ridge Avenue commercial corridor is a major goal of the plan, with businesses that will be anchored by PHA’s headquarters and a supermarket.
It will take 5-7 years for the agency to complete the transformation of the community with a total investment estimated at slightly more than $500 million.
The plan represents an alignment of resources and partners across all levels of government: Federal, in the CNI grant from HUD; State, in a Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) award; and City, in both a HOME grant from the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), and support from the Office of the Mayor and the City Council President.
The housing authority is also working with Public Health Management Corporation and Project HOME to provide health and wellness services to the community.For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Philadelphia Housing Authority website.