Elm Street Program
The Philadelphia Elm Street Program is funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) oversees this program to strengthen the residential blocks in older neighborhoods adjacent to “Main Street” commercial areas. These residential areas have suffered from low property values, a negative image, and perceptions of poor public safety. Without a coordinated effort to revitalize both the residential and commercial areas, improving the quality of life in these neighborhoods will be difficult.
The Elm Street concept implements simultaneous actions in five focus areas, integrated through a community-based strategic planning process. The elements of the “five-point approach” include:
- Clean, Safe and Green
- Neighbors and Economy
- Image & Identity
- Sustainable Organization
Elm Street is intended to operate in tandem with existing commercial corridor revitalization programs. OHCD selects and funds neighborhood-based non-profit organizations to implement the comprehensive strategy. Each organization develops and implements a plan of action for its area.
OHCD and the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) provide training and technical assistance to Elm Street communities. Each Philadelphia Elm Street organization attends the annual and regional meetings of PDC and completes the training programs offered by PDC.
Clean, Safe & Green
Philadelphia’s Elm Street communities improve neighborhood appearance and security through neighborhood clean-up programs, public lighting enhancements and the creation of public spaces and recreational opportunities. Elm Street organizations work with local police officials to identify and resolve neighborhood hot spots and improve safety in the communities. OHCD has supported these efforts by providing funds for public greening, tree planting and community gardens, while the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green Program has provided local groups with technical support.
Neighbors & Economy
The Philadelphia Elm Street organizations support the physical improvement of each neighborhood and the economic growth of its residents by referring eligible residents to an array of City-funded services. Through code enforcement, neighborhood clean up, town watch, neighborhood security, recycling, home improvement and employment training and placement programs, the Elm Street program helps residents take advantage of initiatives designed to improve buildings and land and to increase economic opportunities.
Elm Street organizations compile and maintain current information regarding neighborhood conditions, including vacant structures, vacant lots, structures requiring demolition, deteriorated occupied housing and general block conditions.
Elm Street organizations work closely with other groups located in their communities, including the Main Street organizations that focus on the nearby commercial corridors.
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission has developed Neighborhood Design Guidelines to assist community development corporations and neighborhood-based organizations develop and implement a consistent image in their areas. Using funding from DCED’s New Communities Program, the City supports façade and public infrastructure improvements. In addition, the Philadelphia Mural Arts program brings vibrant color and striking images to neighborhoods with murals that engage local residents in the design process.
Image & Identity
Philadelphia works in Elm Street-designated neighborhoods to promote a community image and identity through activities and amenities. Each Elm Street neighborhood hosts at least one community event each year. Past successes include a holiday walk, a summer music series, first Friday activities, jazz festivals and employment and health fairs. Elm Street neighborhoods also develop identities through amenities such as greenways and recreational facilities.
Philadelphia only funds organizations that have the capacity to carry-out an Elm Street program and that commit to continue the Elm Street principles after the initial funding period.
Current Elm Street Communities
New Kensington CDC
North: Kensington Avenue
East: Allegheny Avenue
South: Delaware River
West: Front Street
(to North Delaware Avenue)
Coral Arts House
Hispanic Association of Contractors & Enterprises (HACE)
North: Glenwood Avenue
East: B Street
South: Lehigh Avenue
West: 6th Street
Peoples Emergency Center CDC
North: Lancaster Avenue/Wallace Street
East: 37th Street
South: Market Street
West: 44th Street
Bernice Elza Homes
Elm Street in Philadelphia –
Later this year, OHCD will issue a Request for Proposal as part of the process of selecting the next round of Elm Street communities.
Questions regarding the Elm Street Program may be directed via email to James O'Toole