PHA Tries to Unload Blighted Homes

As you ride the SEPTA rails through North Philadelphia, you can’t help but hone in on the boarded up, blighted homes, which used to house families and hold memories. The view may soon change as the Philadelphia Housing Authority works to sell 1,000 of the vacant homes and 800 vacant lots it currently owns, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The agency owns a total of 6,900 properties scattered around the city and planned to sell off some of its inventory a year and a half ago. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had to approve the sale, but the PHA’s application had a slew of “deficiencies,” according to HUD spokeswoman Donna White.

The application was put on hold, according to the paper.

But, the sale may now move forward with sales “staggered” over three to five years, Edward Warwick, a PHA spokesman said.

The PHA initiative to recycle its blighted property could be "a very positive move" -- especially if the housing authority conveyed some of it to nonprofit developers of affordable housing, said Rick Sauer, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.

"It is critically important," Sauer said, "that we have better access to vacant land."

How much the PHA would make on the properties is unclear, but the money could be used to fill the gap in their budget due to federal cutbacks, Warwick told the paper.

The PHA will seek market value for most of its buildings and federal aid would be used to renovate 300 properties, according to the paper.

But, some will be used for affordable housing on a case-by-case basis, which "presents an opportunity for community-based development corporations to rehab scattered-site properties and put them back into productive use for affordable housing," Jeremey Newberg, president of Capital Access Inc., told the paper.

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