Thursday, 14/12/2017 UTC+0
PhiladelphiaHousingMarket.com

Housing authority list a year of accomplishments,

Housing authority list a year of accomplishments,

Philadelphia Housing Authority’s CEO Kelvin Jeremiah said his agency has had several successful efforts over the past 12 months, while focusing with renewed energy and commitment on the challenges that lie ahead.

Providing affordable housing opportunities and supportive services to low-income families and seniors is at the heart of PHA’s mission, Jeremiah said. He added that while much work remains to be done to ensure that every city resident has an affordable and decent place to live, the agency has sharpened its focus in 2015 on this core mission. According to Jeremiah, PHA has made substantial progress, particularly in four specific areas: housing the nation’s veterans; preventing and reducing homelessness; revitalizing neighborhoods; and supporting families and communities. That progress, Jeremiah said, was made despite the reality of inadequate operating funds and the threat of continued federal budget reductions.

“In December 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden congratulated the city for its success in effectively ending veterans’ homelessness,” Jeremiah said. “Working closely with the PhillyVetsHome Coalition and the federal government, PHA was a central player in this tremendous effort. Since August 2013, 1,391 homeless veterans have moved into affordable, quality housing, with access to employment assistance and other supportive services. More than half received assistance through PHA initiatives such as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH), the public housing program and first-time homeownership programs. PHA housed nearly 200 veterans this year. By no means is this work finished. In 2016, PHA will remain focused on our efforts to ensure that no veteran is homeless.”

According to Jeremiah, the agency helped three returning veterans to purchase their first homes, with two more awaiting final approvals. Future initiatives include creating 33 new permanent veterans housing units.

“As the cost of housing continues to dramatically increase, a majority of Philadelphia’s low-income families are only one paycheck or rent increase away from homelessness,” Jeremiah said. “As a partner in the city’s Blueprint to End Homelessness program, PHA makes up to 500 housing opportunities available for formerly homeless families and individuals every year and is committed to house an additional 500 families and individuals each year through June 2018.”

Jeremiah noted that in contrast to the surging prosperity of Philadelphia’s downtown neighborhoods, the folks on PHA’s waiting list are in a daily struggle just to get by and make ends meet.

“That’s why we have expanded the number of housing vouchers by more than 3,000 since I arrived at PHA,” he said. “To date, PHA supports over 18,000 families. In that same time, we have worked with the city and our agency partners to provide permanent housing to approximately 2,000 families and individuals that had been in the homeless shelter and transitional housing systems. Once they are PHA residents, we provide access to a whole host of employment, education and other supportive services so that they can stabilize their family situations and thrive.”

In terms of neighborhood revitalization, in the city’s Germantown section, the housing agency completed the new Queen Lane Apartments. The $22 million development replaced an outdated and distressed high-rise public housing development. Also in 2015, PHA spearheaded a communitywide effort to develop a comprehensive transformation plan for the Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood, one of the city’s most blighted areas and home to PHA’s distressed Blumberg public housing development.

The planning effort was supported by a $500,000 federal Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant. The Blumberg/Sharswood Transformation Plan calls for complete revitalization and the development of more than 1,200 mixed-income rental and homeownership units. read more at phillytrib.com