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Press Releases 2015

October 27, 2015

Groundbreaking Set For Vacant Mill Conversion: NKCDC and the City Eliminating Blight and Revitalizing Kensington

On Oct. 27 the City of Philadelphia and New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) will break ground to convert a vacant mill into a mixed-use development.

Orinoka Civic House will bring affordable housing and community, retail and office spaces to Kensington.

The Civic House is the first step in NKCDC’s North of Lehigh Revitalization Plan. Neighborhood residents identified rehabilitation of the mill as a linchpin to improving the community. 

“Replacing blight with a community asset is key to neighborhood transformation,” said Deborah McColloch, Director of the Office of Housing and Community Development. “Our investment in Orinoka Civic House is part of the City’s strategy to revitalize the neighborhood.”

Orinoka Civic House will include 51 units of affordable, accessible and sustainable housing. It will also contain community space for neighborhood residents, retail space, and office space for NKCDC.

Located at Ruth and Somerset Streets, the transit-oriented development is less than a five-minute walk from the Somerset station on the Market-Frankford line. Its proximity to the El will provide Civic House residents with access to jobs across the region.

“The mill is a dangerous eyesore,” said Sandy Salzman, Executive Director of NKCDC. “It has served as a cover for illegal activity.”

“This project will continue the positive momentum in Kensington,” Salzman continued.  “We are excited about the lasting effect Orinoka Civic House will have on the community.”

The Civic House will include supportive services provided by NKCDC. There will be open space for both residents and the community to enjoy, improved security, sidewalk repair and street trees.

October 21, 2015

Ribbon Cutting for Tajdeed Residences, a new development in Kensington
45 New Construction Energy Efficient Affordable Homes

Tajdeed Residences is removing blight, creating jobs, and providing energy efficient housing in Kensington.  Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Arab-American Development Corporation, Conifer Realty, LLC, and the community gathered today for a ribbon-cutting.

Tajdeed Residences is a 45-apartment complex on formerly vacant land at Oxford and Bodine streets.  The community consists of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments.  Six units are fully accessible to people with disabilities.

The homes are affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income. For a family of three this is $42,600 per year.

“Not only did this project provide construction employment, but also it now provides quality, affordable housing,” said Deborah McColloch, Office of Housing and Community Development. “Tajdeed is an example of the City’s resolve to remove blight and promote sustainability.”

Tajdeed features a community room with a kitchenette, a lounge area, a fitness room, a computer lab for residents, a laundry room, and a community garden.

It includes a green roof, densely insulated exterior and interior walls and ceilings, high SEER air condensers, wrapped mechanical equipment, low-flow fixtures, and ENERGY STAR appliances and light fixtures.

“This community, and many parts of Philadelphia, are quickly changing,” said Marwan Kreidie, Executive Director, Arab-American Development Corporation. “Tajdeed Residences is critical to this area.  We are committed to affordable housing.  Keeping housing affordable and creating jobs improves not just this community, but the entire city.”

The project cost is approximately $14.4 million. The City of Philadelphia provided $2.1 million. Conifer Realty raised $11 through Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.  The Community Lenders CDC provided approximately $1 million in financing.

October 7, 2015

City Celebrates Phase 1 of Ingersoll Commons
10 New Affordable Homes, with Park and Rain Garden in Phase 2

New homeowners joined City officials to mark the rebirth of a formerly vacant lot at 16th and Master Streets. Ingersoll Commons is a two-phase effort to meet the City’s affordable housing, stormwater management and open space goals.

Phase 1 is a 10-unit, energy-efficient, affordable homeownership development. 

“Ingersoll Commons brings affordable, energy-efficient homes to this community,” said Deborah McColloch, Director of Office of Housing and Community Development. (Second from right in photo)  “We are replacing blight with homeowners and hope.”

“This development is part of our strategy to revitalize the community,” said Council President Darrell Clarke.  “The public and private sectors – working together – are improving the quality of life in this neighborhood.”     

“Ingersoll Commons meets a tremendous need,” said David La Fontaine, Executive Director of Community Ventures. (At left in photo)  “We received over 40 applications to purchase these 10 homes.”

The homes are energy-efficient with tankless water heaters, gas-fired furnaces and Energy Star 3.0 insulation.  All homes will face the new park. The development will manage its stormwater with an infiltration basin under the parking area and new street.

Each home has:

  • 3 Bedrooms
  • 2 ½ Bathrooms
  • Basement
  • Sizable private back yards

One home is accessible for persons with disabilities. The homes are affordable to a family of four earning $64,900 a year.

Phase 2 will create a new City park featuring a lawn, large shade trees, native plants, paths and benches.  The park will manage stormwater from surrounding streets, and two rain gardens will manage rain that falls on the property.  The park will be lit with solar-powered pedestrian lights. 

Ingersoll Commons is part of the City’s “Green Plan Philadelphia” initiative to bring new open space to underserved neighborhoods. It also supports “Green City, Clean Waters”, the City’s stormwater management plan. 

"Conserving and managing water helps green our environment, create a more livable city and reduce our costs,” said Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug.  “Through partnerships like Ingersoll Commons, we are building a more sustainable city.”

Phase 2 of Ingersoll Commons will be completed in spring 2016.


Funding: The total project cost is approximately $4.9 million:

  • OHCD provided $2.5 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds
  • Philadelphia Water provided $500,000
  • Philadelphia Parks and Recreation provided $400,000 from a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant
  • Sales proceeds will total $1.5 million


September 29, 2015

Ribbon Cutting for New Homeless Housing Development St. Raymond’s House which provides housing and services for most vulnerable

The City of Philadelphia, Depaul USA, and St. Raymond’s parish have teamed up to open new housing, St. Raymond’s House, for chronically ill homeless men and women.

The new housing features 27 rooms, 14 of which are fully accessible. There are shared restrooms on every floor, along with communal spaces for residents to gather. Support offices are located on the first floor and basement area. The building also features laundry facilities, storage, computer lab, communal space, and a library (photo right).

“With each project like this, we are getting one step closer to eliminating homelessness once and for all,” said Deborah McColloch, Director of Office of Housing and Community Development (photo left). “It is the City’s goal to meet the needs of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities.  By doing that, we improve our City.”

The housing is targeted for the aging homeless population, many of whom have chronic health concerns and concurring behavioral health diagnoses.

“The chronically ill homeless population is one that has been hit particularly hard over the years,” said Charles Levesque, President & Executive Director of Depaul USA (photo right). “These individuals frequently use the emergency room for primary care purposes, which is not only insufficient for their needs, but creates a burden on the healthcare system.  This new development enables us to provide the stability for each person to fully recover from their illnesses, while offering the support they need to make a fresh start.”

St. Raymond’s House will offer chronically ill homeless individuals a place to stay for an unlimited time where they can focus on their recovery, no matter what their illness.

March 11, 2015

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Bigham Place, affordable housing near public transit, jobs, education and shops

Philadelphia, PA, March 11, 2015
– City and state officials joined People’s Emergency Center (PEC) to celebrate the opening of Bigham Leatherberry Wise Place (Bigham Leatherberry Wise) in West Philadelphia.  Bigham Leatherberry Wise transformed a vacant lot and an existing structure into 11 new affordable homes, seven of which are for formerly homeless women with special needs and their children.

Bigham Leatherberry Wise includes six two-bedroom units and five three-bedroom units (for a total of eleven units).  Two of the units will be fully accessible to people with disabilities and one will be accessible to individuals with sensory impairments. The project reflects community objectives laid down in the 2004 West Powelton/Saunders Park Neighborhood Plan and the more recent Lower Lancaster Revitalization Plan.

“As part of People's Emergency Center's mission to nurture families, strengthen neighborhoods and serve as a catalyst for positive change, Bigham Leatherberry Wise is important to this neighborhood because it provides affordable rentals in a changing neighborhood, and coincides with the homeownership projects in the pipeline in this neighborhood,” said Kathy Desmond, Interim President and CEO of PEC.

Residents of Bigham Leatherberry Wise have access to supportive services through PEC. Services include case management, children’s programs, affordable childcare, counseling and therapy, drug and alcohol out-patient treatment, and employment and training programs. A case management office is located on site for residents to access services and referrals. Bigham Place also features a courtyard containing a rain garden and seating area for residents, as well as a large rear yard to provide a space for children to play.

“Quality, safe, and affordable housing gives families the opportunity to focus on building a home,” said Deborah McColloch, Director, Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD).  “Providing housing for women and their children gives the parents and the children the chance to thrive in our communities and schools.”

Over the past two decades, the area around the Bigham Leatherberry Wise project has been the focal point of more than $54 million in investments from PEC’s real estate developments and has leveraged many millions more from both the public and private sectors. Not far from Bigham Place, PEC alone has transformed 157 vacant properties into 241 units of affordable housing, including Jannie’s Place, Cloisters III, Homeownership Phase I, Bernice Elza Homes, and Fattah Homes.

Bigham Leatherberry Wise Place is named in honor of three local community organizers who have been important to either the needs of the community or championing the needs of homeless families. Helen Bigham was a PEC Board Member and volunteer crossing several decades of PEC’s history.  John Leatherberry and Elsie Wise both hold leadership positions with the West Powelton Concerned Citizens Council, and are long-standing community organizers. 

Seventy-one people were employed building Bigham Place. The development received funding from the City’s Office of Housing and Community Development and Office of Supportive Housing, as well as FHLBank Pittsburgh, TD Charitable Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and The Reinvestment Fund, for a total investment of $2,695,000.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) provided financing assistance for the development.

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