As PHA begins third phase of North Philly development, Temple pledges support

Federal, state and local officials break ground on Norris Apartments Phase III, a project to replace the Norris Homes near Temple University.

Federal, state and local officials break ground on Norris Apartments Phase III, a project to replace the Norris Homes near Temple University. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Housing Authority broke ground Monday for the third phase of its redevelopment of the Norris Homes. The Norris Apartments is located in North Central Philadelphia, next to Temple University’s campus.

“We’re thrilled to see the renewal of this neighborhood as we work toward building a stronger, safer, more vibrant, and sustainable community,” said Kelvin Jeremiah, Philadelphia Housing Authority president and CEO.

The new affordable-housing project is a five-phase, $125 million development partially funded by a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The core goals of the grant program are to improve the neighborhood, housing, and outcomes for residents through employment and income, health, and children’s education.

While neighboring Temple University’s growth is stoking fears of gentrification among residents, the university partnered with PHA and Norris Homes to help address children’s education for the duration of the grant.

At the Monday groundbreaking ceremony, Temple president Richard Englert said the school is committed to being an ally for its neighbors.

“We have wonderful neighbors, and we will continue to work very closely. We want everything to be good for the neighbors and for Temple University,” said Englert.

So far, the university has made about $1.9 million in reading and math contributions to Norris’ community-led after-school and summer-camp program at the community center on 11th and Berks streets.

Donna Richardson, president of the Norris Apartments Resident Council, speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Norris Apartments Phase III, which will partially replace the original Norris Homes development of the 1950s.
Donna Richardson, president of the Norris Homes Resident Council, speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Norris Apartments Phase III, which will partially replace the original Norris Homes development of the 1950s. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Donna Richardson, president of the Norris Homes Resident Council, said Monday the partnership has helped build trust within the community.

“When you start asking Temple, and you realize what they’re willing to give, then you understand that it’s not that closed door that you thought before,” she said.

Consisting of 50 affordable units, the third phase of the Norris Apartment development is expected to be completed in November 2019.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.