PHA chief hopes property sales will fix ‘broken teeth’ in Philly neighborhoods

    The Philadelphia Housing Authority’s auction of scattered properties this week will mark a new day for the agency.

    PHA Executive Director Michael Kelly said the goal of the auction is to bring hope to the neighborhoods.

    “This is really just the beginning of an effort by the housing authority to work with the nonprofit, government, and private sectors to fix the broken teeth of these neighborhoods by having partners reinvest in these properties,” Kelly said.

    More than 400 properties will be auctioned in groups of one to 25 Wednesday. Almost all of them sit between Vine Street and Hunting Park Avenue.

    Peter Crawford, the CEO of a development group that does a lot of work in the Temple University area, said the auction’s a great idea.

    “If I have one complaint it’s that they have decided to sell a lot of these properties in very large packages,” Crawford said. That “makes it very difficult for the homeowner or the small investor to have an opportunity to get their hands on these properties and rehabilitate them.”

    PHA has scheduled a second auction for December to sell properties individually.

    Penelope Giles, the founder of the Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation, said the auction’s a smart move by PHA.

    “I don’t think it’s any secret that they really have had some problems in terms of managing the scattered sites,” Giles said. “Most of the folks that will be bidding on them are developers.”

    She said many of those developers have “been trying to get their hands on PHA properties for a long time.”

    While she said she realizes many of the properties being sold in groups are probably too large for individual homeowners or small investors, Giles said her priority is getting the vacant and blighted PHA properties in her community developed and inhabited.

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