ABOVE PHOTO: PHA Interim Executive Director Michael Kelly (right) presents a gift to residents Anthony Anderson and LaTanya Thompson who moved into renovated homes in the 1700 block of Diamond Avenue. The housing authority has completed a $31 million dollar renovation project that covers 340 homes across the city. The money came from stimulus funds awarded to the agency.
Not too long ago, the home at 1720 Diamond Street was vacant and rundown. Thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Philadelphia Housing Authority. PHA was able to completely renovate the interior and transform it into homes for two families. The units are just two of 340 scattered throughout the city that PHA substantially rehabbed with stimulus funds over the past year and a half.
The renovation project is the largest PHA stimulus-funded project to date. PHA began construction on the first of the scattered site units in May 2009. The project, spanning seven council districts, created hundreds of direct and indirect jobs.
“PHA has and will continue to make great strides in combating blight in Philadelphia by providing affordable housing to the people who need it most,” said newly appointed PHA Interim Executive Director Michael P. Kelly. “This type of accomplishment would not have been possible without the funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
A significant number of the renovated units are designated for citizens with disabilities. Seventy-one were converted into fully accessible apartments with interior or exterior chair lifts so wheelchair users can have full use of their home. The units are part of PHA’s campaign to build more affordable, accessible housing and provide opportunities for persons with disabilities to live independently as part of the community.
One of the residents moving in today, Anthony Anderson had been living in a shelter with his two-year-old son. Anderson was referred to PHA through a partnership with a city program called the Blueprint to end homelessness. He says having a permanent home will allow him the stability to raise his son and seek work.
The other new resident is Latanya Thompson. She has daughter attending Delaware Valley College and a son.
The 340 renovated homes were also brought up to PHA’s high energy-efficiency standards. The properties now include improved insulation, energy efficient air and water heaters, doors, windows, and Energy Star appliances and fixtures.
Other stimulus-funded projects nearing completion include the upgrade of fire suppression standpipes at nine developments, the construction of the Mantua Square development in West Philadelphia, and the rehabilitation of the 800 block of Markoe Street, which is part of the Lucien E. Blackwell Homes community.