Protesters call on UPenn to help save affordable housing complex
University of Pennsylvania students and faculty are demanding the Ivy League school help preserve an affordable rental housing complex near campus.
Driving the news: University groups and West Philadelphia community members demonstrated on campus Tuesday, calling on school officials to condemn the sale of the University City Townhomes.
Context: IBID Associates, the owner of the 70-unit complex at 3990 Market St., didn't renew its affordable housing contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which expires July 2022.
- The owner intends to sell the property.
- Its market value is listed as more than $9.5 million, according to the city's website.
What they're saying: Jake Nussbaum, a graduate student at UPenn and a member of the group Police Free Penn, said the university has been "complicit in the erasure and transformation of these neighborhoods to support what their interests are."
- "We want to defend our neighbors, our fellow Philadelphians from the evils of displacement and the evils that 'Penn-trification' brings," Nussbaum said.
Consuela Astillero, a resident of the complex since it opened in the early 1980s, said she fears she won't find an alternative affordable rental housing unit by the time the complex closes.
- "It's like we're being kicked out with no consideration," she said.
Zoom out: It's rare for private owners to opt out of their affordable housing contracts, HUD spokesperson Nika Edwards told Axios.
- When opt-out situations happen, HUD assists residents in relocating to new affordable housing and provides other services.
Of note: IBID and the university didn't respond to Axios' requests for comment.
What to watch: The Philadelphia City Council is weighing a proposal that would put in place a temporary demolition moratorium and affordable housing requirements for the site.
- The proposal remains stalled.
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