Mantua to receive investment in housing and community development support

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments and the Mantua neighborhood one of 17 nationwide Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants.

This project is one of 119 planning grant applications that competed for $4 million in funding under the Obama administration’s new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. It is the only Pennsylvania award.

“I am pleased that HUD has recognized the importance of the Mantua community and the Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments in Philadelphia. This Choice Neighborhoods grant affirms my belief in the Mantua community and I look forward to working with Mantua residents and surrounding stakeholders in the ongoing efforts to rebuild and revitalize this historic neighborhood which is in close proximity to our business districts, universities, and anchor institutions” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

Drexel University is a partner committing faculty and administrative expertise to the planning process, while The Philadelphia Foundation and One Economy Corporation have committed resources to this program. The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia has also recently allocated $3.7 million from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding to the rehabilitation of Mt. Vernon Manor.

Congressman Chaka Fattah (D‐PA) said, “Selection of the Mantua community and Mt. Vernon Manor to receive a grant from HUD’s new Neighborhood Initiative is the right choice at the right time. As a House appropriator, I’ve been a supporter of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. Transforming our communities is not only a good choice, it’s a smart choice. Improving our housing stock is crucial to bringing back and stabilizing areas like Mantua.”

Choice Neighborhoods is HUD’s planned successor to HOPE VI, which has transformed public housing across the nation for almost twenty years. The goal of the program is to support a comprehensive approach to revitalization “that links housing with a mix of incomes and uses with quality education, public transportation, good jobs, and safe streets,” according to Secretary Shaun Donovan in his announcement of the awards.

Constructed in 1980, Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments is a nine‐building HUD‐assisted housing development with 125 apartments at 33rd and Wallace Streets in Mantua that is in need of major rehabilitation.

The award will support a neighborhood planning process anchored on the revitalization of Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments. This centrally located development will act as the focal point to engage the community in a process of envisioning Mantua’s future, taking into account Mantua’s access to transportation, education, health care, employment opportunities, open space, and neighborhood amenities.

“Mt. Vernon Manor and Mantua are ideal candidates in Pennsylvania for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative,” said State Sen. Vincent Hughes, whose 7th District includes Mantua. “There is a need to provide a framework for investment in Mantua and I am encouraged that this provides an effective path to achieve this”.

Once the plan is complete, Mt. Vernon Manor, Inc and the City of Philadelphia will be able to apply for up to $30 million towards the construction of new housing, rehabilitation of existing housing, and to support community services, all within Mantua.

This opportunity for Mantua to become a model Choice Neighborhoods community comes at an important time for Philadelphia, as the 2010 Census reports the City’s population growing for the first time in fifty years, giving Philadelphia’s communities reason to plan for future growth and investment.

Diamond & Associates, an affordable housing advisory firm founded in Philadelphia in 1990, and Kitchen & Associates, a planning and architectural firm specializing in community revitalization will serve as technical support for the process.

Contact: David Aiken, Diamond & Associates 215­732­3600 Ext 104

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