Intercommunity Action, the Roxborough human services non-profit, has received a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202, Supportive Housing for the Elderly.
Interac, as it is also called, serves residents of Andorra, Roxborough, Manayunk, Wissahickon, East Falls and Nicetown. It was one of four other developers to receive the grant. Presby’s Inspired Life was the other Philadelphia developer to get HUD’s Section 202 grant. Two other non-profits from Western Pennsylvania received HUD’s Section 811 grant, Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, according to David Bolin, president and CEO of Interac.
Interac will use the grant for a new apartment building with 40 one-bedroom units at 6761 Ridge Avenue, the intersection of Ridge and Fairthorne avenues. “Right now, it’s a vacant lot,” Bolin said. Construction is slated to begin next year. The four-story building will have a community room and laundry facilities on each floor, he added. The building will also include a part time social worker to assist residents with Medicare and Social Security services.
The facility is “designed for independent seniors,” Bolin said. Tenants would pay 30 percent of their income for rent, which includes utilities. The maximum income for eligibility is $25,000 — a low target to provide seniors with affordable housing. Interac operates the only two other affordable housing facilities in Roxborough: Pensdale Village and Pensdale II, both located at 4200 Mitchell Street.
The two existing facilities both have very extensive waiting lists, according to Bolin. “When they opened the last one about two years ago, about 300 people applied for 38 apartments in Roxborough Pensdale II.”
The increased demand in affordable housing for seniors is partly due to “the tremendous gentrification in this area,” Bolin said. “Those apartments are now occupied by younger people. The rental housing market has increased significantly. I know an awful lot of people who were living off of savings. Their [certificate of deposit] doesn’t pay as much interest as it used to. Pensions haven’t increased.”
The topography, he added, is another complication for seniors. Houses in Roxborough, particularly in Manayunk, are designed with a significant amount of stairs leading to the first floor, making it a challenge for the most mobile of seniors.