Leaders dedicate new low-income housing development to Pope Francis

 Sister Mary Scullion attends the dedication of Francis House of Peace, a 9-story low-income apartment building in Chinatown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Sister Mary Scullion attends the dedication of Francis House of Peace, a 9-story low-income apartment building in Chinatown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A 94-unit low-income housing development is nearing completion in Philadelphia’s Chinatown neighborhood, and with that, leaders are dedicating it to a rather celebrated upcoming Philadelphia visitor: Pope Francis.

The nine-story building has been in the works for at least three years and has involved about $23.5 million in public and private funding, according to John Chin, with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

“Our hope and our dream is that this house really becomes a home, a peaceful home, for many folks that have been living on the streets and for many folks that have been not homeless, but living in very substandard housing,” said Chin.

The building includes ground floor retail space and apartments geared toward young adults and LGBTQ individuals.

The name, announced at a dedication ceremony Monday morning: Francis House of Peace. It can be seen in big letters on the building’s side, with “House of Peace” also written in Cantonese.

Sister Mary Scullion from Project HOME, a nonprofit service organization for homeless Philadelphians, said she hopes the name will serve as a permanent reminder of the Pope’s leadership beyond his upcoming visit, and the work that needs to continue.

“When the Pope leaves on Sunday, we have to be that force that brings change to our community,” she said. “So today we’re celebrating a project of inclusion, diversity and transformation.”

The project is a partnership between Project HOME and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. Residents are expected to be settled in by the start of next year, if not sooner. It’s located at 810 Arch Street, the former site of a parking lot.

“It’s a leftover remnant of the transition of the Reading Terminal Train Station,” said Chin. “So what a better way to convert an empty parking lot into housing for the needy?” 

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