by Troy H.
The North Philadelphia Complete Blocks Project is a continuation of Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia’s long-term efforts to work with local residents and the city to bring a stronger future to this specific small community within North Central Philadelphia. Habitat has worked in this specific community in a clearly defined target area since 1985, when the first Habitat affiliate began in Philadelphia. Since then, Habitat has built new and rehabbed a total of 72 homes in partnership with low-income families within a few blocks of Habitat Philadelphia’s headquarters.
From the beginning, Habitat has strived to build affordable, durable and attractive homes that will help rebuild the community block by block. The North Philadelphia Complete Blocks Project continues this investment with five strategic homes that will strengthen blocks where Habitat has been working for years, in addition WHRP is working with existing homeowners in the area on critical home repair and weatherization. The map below (click to enlarge) outlines the North Central Philadelphia focus area and highlights Habitat’s investment, the five new homes in NPCBP and home repairs that have been part of WHRP pilot project and current projects.
As you can see on the map, Habitat has not been the only player in this area, especially over the past five years. If you are from the area or are familiar with the neighborhood, you know that the area is experiencing one of the largest building booms in the City of Philadelphia currently, and this is mostly due to the huge increase of private development of rental housing for students. We can also note, the amount of “private investment” indicated on the map is remarkable for a struggling urban neighborhood. The student rental housing development can be seen as both a positive and negative for the neighborhood, but we won’t get into that debate here. Even though this map was recently updated in May 2012, there has been significant building within the past few months.
Despite Habitat’s investment and private development, issues of vacant land are still a huge battle that is being fought daily by residents, Habitat, and private developers. There are approximately 40,000 vacant properties in the City of Philadelphia and only one-third of the vacant properties are owned by the City itself. This is an issue across the city and you can see the amount of vacant land (white) and vacant buildings (black) on the map.
Habitat is looking to continue its investment in North Central Philadelphia and the NPCBP is a great beginning to hopefully a larger plan in the near future.