Sep 23, 2022 - News

West Philly affordable housing tenants get more time to move

The University City Townhomes in West Philadelphia.

The University City Townhomes in West Philadelphia. Photo: Taylor Allen/Axios

Tenants facing displacement from a West Philly affordable housing complex that activists are fighting to save now have more time to find a new home.

What's happening: Up until this week, residents living in the University City Townhomes were facing an Oct. 8 deadline to vacate the property in the University City neighborhood.

  • Tenants now have until Dec. 27, after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently approved a request from the property's owner to extend its affordable housing contract.

Catch up quick: Tenants, neighbors and activists have been protesting to save the complex at 3990 Market St. after owner IBID Associates decided against renewing its contract with HUD last year. IBID intends to sell the site.

  • Residents were initially notified that they must leave the property by July 8, but HUD has extended the owner's contract a handful of times, at IBID's request.
  • Protesters' efforts, which include an encampment outside the townhomes that was dismantled in August, have garnered support from some on City Council and students at the University of Pennsylvania, an institution that activists have criticized for contributing to the area's gentrification.
  • This month, tenants resisting the complex's sale issued a list of demands, including a two-year extension to live at the property.

The big picture: Philly is facing an escalating affordable housing emergency.

  • That's fueled by the impending expiration of affordable housing contracts and the failure to maintain an aging housing stock, Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) Kelvin A. Jeremiah wrote in an op-ed in the Inquirer this week.
  • 14,500 affordable housing contracts are at risk of expiring over the next decade, according to city estimates.

By the numbers: 32 residents from the complex are still looking for housing, while another 30 have secured new units elsewhere, PHA spokesperson Nichole Tillman told Axios.

  • PHA is helping the remaining tenants find housing, including offering housing vouchers.

What they're saying: Rasheda Alexander, a 35-year-old resident at the complex, told Axios the December extension was not enough time to find adequate housing.

  • She also accused the owner of halting routine maintenance at the complex.
  • "We are living with rats running through our neighborhood," she said.

Kevin Feeley, a spokesperson for IBID Associates, told Axios IBID requested another extension to give the remaining residents more time to find alternative housing.

  • Feeley left open the possibility that some tenants could remain at the complex after the federal contract ends if they have yet to find housing elsewhere.
  • "We'll take it on a case-by-case basis," he said.

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