Frankford residents hope new affordable housing complex is a sign of things to come

“We wanted this project to feel like Frankford, to be about Frankford, and be for Frankford,” said City Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sanchez.

City officials participate in a groundbreaking for an affordable housing complex in Frankford

Frankford House, a new affordable housing complex for seniors, is being built near the intersection of Frankford and Kensington avenues. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A new 46-unit apartment complex in Frankford has been a long time coming.

The housing complex, situated near the junction of Frankford and Kensington avenues under the shadow of the Market-Frankford Line, was built with the neighborhood in mind.

At a groundbreaking for Frankford House on Tuesday, City Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sanchez said that approach is partially why it’s taken five years to get from the project’s initial conception to the start of construction.

“We wanted this project to feel like Frankford, to be about Frankford, and be for Frankford, and not every time when a developer comes in do they want to consider the idiosyncrasies of Frankford,” Quiñones-Sanchez said.

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The facility is built on properties assembled by Philadelphia’s land bank in order to provide housing opportunities for people with low income.

“This is an example of a project that is not only for senior housing, but it really wraps around the services that seniors need to live with a dignified lifestyle and all the support services. Most developers don’t have to do that,” Quiñones-Sanchez said.

“You can build a box and folks will live in apartments. The beauty of this project is the partnership that it brings to ensure that seniors who are half a block away from a transportation center, half a block away from a commercial corridor, can really live in a place where everything is walkable in their community.”

A rendering of a new 46-unit apartment complex in Frankford.
A rendering of the new 46-unit apartment complex in Frankford. (Frankford House)

Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-Phila.) said it’s been about 20 years since new affordable housing came to the Frankford neighborhood.

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He believes the project will reflect the surrounding community and its nuances, which isn’t always the case. Dawkins cited a recent SEPTA project in the area, which he said did not reflect the community. “We didn’t want to make that mistake again,” he said.”

“This community so often gets labeled as a bad community, as a dangerous community, but it’s a community,” Dawkins said. “At some point, we have to take ownership of a community. Now, we may have bad apples, everywhere does. But we have to address those bad apples and get back to the community because there’s a lot of great people who live here.”

Pastor Edward Franklin III of Power Through the Word Ministries echoed Dawkins, suggesting the housing complex could be the beginning of a renaissance in the neighborhood.

“It would be a continual flow from Center City,” Frankin explained.

Frankford House is dedicated exclusively to senior citizens at or below the poverty level and will use existing federal housing funding to offset the discounted rent of the new development.

The units should be ready for occupancy next year.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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