Apr 22, 2022 - News

Philly approves Habitat for Humanity project after months of delays

Architectural renderings of a Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia affordable housing project at 1604-1616 Page St. Rendering courtesy of MDesigns + MWJ Consulting LLC

Habitat for Humanity received the green light this week on a project to bring more affordable housing to North Philadelphia after months of delays.

Driving the news: City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the nonprofit's proposal to redevelop six single-family, affordable homes at 1604-1616 Page St.

  • But the decision follows several complaints from neighbors, some of whom are now pushing to protect a nearby parking lot.

Catch up fast: City officials were originally supposed to vote on the Habitat for Humanity project last fall. But Council President Darrell Clarke withheld signoff and blocked a resolution allowing the nonprofit to acquire the land, in part to better assess neighbors' concerns.

  • Habitat renegotiated with neighbors and revised its original plan, reducing the number of homes the nonprofit plans to redevelop from seven to six.
  • The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority approved Habitat's updated design last month.

What they're saying: "While it did take longer than we anticipated, six more families and 16 kiddos will be homed," Habitat of Humanity Philadelphia CEO Corinne O'Connell said.

Tyreeka Richards is one of those individuals. At the time she applied for the Habitat housing, she was living with her two daughters in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat.

  • "Homeownership means a lot to me because I need a warm place for my children, and it gives me an opportunity to give some wealth to my children," she told Axios.

Clarke credits the win to negotiations among neighbors, Habitat and his office.

Meanwhile, some neighbors are still concerned about how the project could affect parking in the area.

  • In March, one neighbor applied to have the parking lot protected under a city historical designation. It's slated to be considered by the Philadelphia Historical Commission on May 13.

Of note: To be considered, the parking lot has to meet specific and strict criteria around its historical significance, including whether it's associated with an event or individual important to the history of the city, state or nation.

Between the lines: The Historical Commission has never approved the designation for a surface parking lot.

  • An advisory committee recommended that the commission reject the designation request because it doesn't satisfy the criteria on Wednesday, according to the commission's executive director, Jonathan Farnham.

What's ahead: If the Historical Commission votes to not designate it, Habitat will finalize transferring the property with the PRA and can begin construction soon after.


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