Apr 10, 2024 - News

Displaced tenants from Philadelphia affordable housing complex got payouts

Illustration of Philadelphia City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: BasSlabbers/Getty Images

Dozens of tenants displaced from a shuttered West Philadelphia affordable housing complex have received more than $3 million over the past year via a settlement between the developer and the city.

Why it matters: The closing of the University City Townhomes in 2021 kicked off years of protests and negotiations around the site's future, which led to an unprecedented agreement in the city to pay displaced tenants.

Driving the news: Philly's United Way chapter split $3.1 million among more than 70 former townhome tenants as of February, spokesperson Erika Joy Erb said.

  • Each household received $50,000 from the $3.5 million fund administered by United Way, city solicitor Renee Garcia tells Axios.
  • A handful of tenants remain "in the process" of completing conditions for the money, like taking financial counseling sessions, Garcia said.

Catch up quick: In 2021, IBID Associates, which has owned the complex since the 1980s, declined to renew its federal affordable housing contract for the site in gentrified University City.

  • Then, in 2023, the developer and city struck a deal to end a lawsuit brought by IBID. The deal included the owner paying for a fund for the tenants' relocation and housing costs and a pledge to transfer a portion of the site to the city to build 70 affordable housing units.
  • Meanwhile, IBID can sell or redevelop the rest of the site.

State of play: Demolition of the complex began last month and is ongoing, IBID spokesperson Kevin Feeley tells Axios.

  • The city will receive part of the site following demolition and division of the parcel.
  • Garcia said the city has begun planning the future affordable housing development there but declined further comment.

What they're saying: Sheldon Davids, a former tenant and townhome resident council member, tells Axios the ex-tenants were "generally satisfied" with how the payments have been coordinated so far.

  • But he said they remain in the dark about the city's plans to build the site's affordable housing.
  • "We have not been kept in the loop in the most basic way," he says.

Bill Golderer, president of the local United Way chapter, tells Axios that the organization is continuing financial counseling sessions to ensure tenants receive their settlement money.


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