City of Philadelphia and Community Ventures Break Ground to Create New 30+ Units of Supportive Housing
Public and Private Partnership Creates Additional Housing for Chronically Homeless in Converted Church in Old City
PHILADELPHIA, PA-NOVEMBER 20, 2023-The City of Philadelphia and Community Ventures celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking of Old First House. This affordable housing mixed-use development will create 34 permanent supportive housing units for the chronically homeless.
Old First House will redevelop an underutilized portion of Old First Reformed UCC’s property along the 100 block of N. 4th Street. The Old First House building will include 2,656 square feet of ground floor commercial space at the corner of 4th & Race and new ground floor offices and multipurpose room for the Church. The second through fifth floors will include 34 small efficiency units ranging in size from 277 SF to 353 SF and a residential community room.
To accommodate the new building there will be a relocation of a circa 1760 three-story building known as 151 N. 4th Street later in the week. The link to livestream the move will be provided at the groundbreaking. The building will be moved approximately 48 feet to the south on the project site and be fully renovated and restored. The 1760s building has been used by Old First Reformed UCC since the 1970s as their parsonage and later their church office space. After the relocation, the building will remain as a portion of their office space. The building is being moved by Wolfe House & Building Movers.
“On behalf of Mayor Jim Kenney, the Division of Housing and Community Development and our great partners at PHDC and the Office of Homeless Services, the City is so very excited for this project,” said Melissa Long, Director of the City’s Division of Housing and Community Development. “DHCD gave over $3.7 million to this project. This is because the City is committed to strategies to help create safe and permanent housing options. The affordable housing crisis is real, and much more funding is needed. But with the local, state and federal funding we do receive, we are able to fund projects like this and others that give Philadelphians the chance to have a home or keep their home-which is life-changing. I am grateful to be a part of this work for our city.”
“Our City desperately needs affordable living options for our unhoused population,” said Councilmember Mark Squilla, District 1. “I am pleased to have this development in the Council district I represent and am grateful to Old First Reformed UCC and the other partners on this project for bringing it to fruition.”
Since the 1980s, when then-Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode called on congregations to open their doors to the homeless population, Old First Reformed UCC has sheltered 30-45 homeless men in their social hall, located on the first floor of the church, during the six coldest months out of every year. This project will be an extension—and an improvement—of Old First Reformed UCC’s long-term efforts to shelter the homeless. This project will move Philadelphia closer to its ultimate goal of welcoming all of its citizens off the street and into safe and affordable housing.
“For an historic church, it’s a great new beginning. We’ve been sheltering homeless men each winter since 1986. It’s about time we break ground on providing permanent housing..” said Pastor Michael Caine, “We’re grateful and excited to be working with our partners to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.”
“We are at this point because Old First UCC invited Community Ventures here some 7 years ago and asked us what we would propose to build on this site. We suggested that the plan be supportive housing as an extension of the work the church had been doing for over 30 years,” said David La Fontaine, Executive Director of Community Ventures, “This project has been made possible not just with the generosity of the Old First congregation but also with the very strong support from several other organizations, both public and private.”
The project has received funding commitments from the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Low Income Housing Tax Credits and additional funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, and operating subsidy from the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA). Old First House will also include a construction loan from TD Bank, equity investment from the National Equity Fund, and a permanent loan from Community Lenders.
ABOUT COMMUNITY VENTURES
Community Ventures is a non-profit affordable housing developer, founded in 1987 to work in partnership with neighborhood-based organizations with the goal of improving communities and increasing the supply of affordable housing. Community Ventures has developed over 470 units of affordable housing including rental, homeownership, and permanent supportive housing throughout Philadelphia and currently manages over 280 units of affordable housing. Community Ventures is the developer and property manager for Old First House. www.community-ventures.org
ABOUT OLD FIRST REFORMED UCC
An historical church, founded in 1727, Old First is Philadelphia’s fourth oldest congregation and one of the “mother-churches” of the United Church of Christ. It is also a lively, progressive congregation with a variety of ministries to our current day and time. For 36 years, among its ministries to homeless and economically disadvantaged neighbors, it has hosted a Winter Men’s Homeless Shelter. The church is excited by the next step forward, replacing the Shelter with permanent, supportive housing and welcoming new neighbors to Old City. www.oldfirstucc.org
ABOUT DEPAUL USA
Depaul USA is a national homeless services organization, currently working in eight cities across the United States and affiliated with Depaul International Group. Depaul USA operates 20 different programs providing services ranging from permanent and transitional supportive housing to jobs programs and health clinics. They assist homeless men and women to realize their potential through an array of supportive services, with the goal of giving people the tools they need to permanently exit homelessness. Depaul USA will be the supportive services provider and on-site property manager for Old First House. www.depaulusa.org
ABOUT DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (DHCD)
The Division of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is the City of Philadelphia’s housing policy agency. DHCD is responsible for the funding and support of housing and community development programs that benefit low- and moderate-income residents and revitalize the City’s neighborhoods. This is accomplished through effective and innovative policy development and implementation.
DHCD administers the City’s housing budget, which is funded from a variety of public and private sources, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is the primary source of revenue from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is used to fund and support housing and community development activities. Each fiscal year DHCD prepares the Consolidated Plan, which delineates how the grant and other funds will be used.
PHDC is the City of Philadelphia’s full-service community development organization. For over 50 years, PHDC creates and provides services and programs that makes Philadelphia a great place to live. PHDC helps residents, community groups, businesses and developers repurpose vacant land. PHDC also facilities the repair of homes and finances affordable housing projects. Supported by dedicated staff, PHDC works in every neighborhood in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Land Bank and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is staffed by PHDC, and PHDC works closely with the City’s Department of Planning and Development. Visit https://phdcphila.org/ to learn more.