Project Home opens 40-unit apartment building — a first since the pandemic began

Project Home event

Peg’s place resident Lucretia Porter was given the honor of cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of Project HOME’s newest residence on September 27, 2021. She was joined by critical funders, Project HOME staff and city officials. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Lucretia Porter dropped to her knees and wept the first time she entered the one-bedroom apartment she now calls home.

After a decade of living on the streets and years of drug rehab programs, she was finally sober with a second chance firmly in her grasp.

“I said, ‘Thank you, God,’” said Porter, who moved in earlier this month.

On Monday, the 58-year-old shed more tears of joy during a ceremony in North Philadelphia to celebrate the completion of Peg’s Place, a 40-unit apartment building operated by Project Home that provides housing to people who are homeless, have been homeless, or are at risk of homelessness, including people who have been evicted.

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Lucretia Porter, 58, moved into her new apartment in Project HOME’s Peg’s Place residence on September 10, 2021, and said she fell to her knees and cried to have a place of her own. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Porter helped cut the ceremonial ribbon on the $17 million building with elected officials and showed off her new place during a tour of the property, the first Project Home has opened since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s been a rough road, but asking for the help that I needed to get me to this place was the best thing I ever did,” said Porter.

Like many of Project Home’s properties, Peg’s Place offers permanent supportive housing. That means residents can stay there as long as they want, as well as take advantage of services designed to keep them on their feet and moving forward in life, including mental health services, GED classes, and job training.

Project Home event
Sister Mary Scullion, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Project HOME, celebrates their new residences, Peg’s Place, on N 8th Street in Philadelphia, on September 27, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Residents are only required to pay 30% of their income –— regardless of what they earn. The rest is subsidized by the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

“It’s not just about providing a house or a home. It’s about providing the necessary supports that people can [use to] truly break the cycle of homelessness and poverty,” said Sister Mary Scullion, who founded Project Home more than 30 years ago.

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Porter, for one, hopes to transition from her apartment at Peg’s Place to buying a home.

The four-story building is part of Project Home’s mission to eliminate homelessness in Philadelphia, which is both the poorest big city in the country, and the city with the lowest number of street homeless per capita in the country.

Roughly 950 people live without shelter in the city, according to 2019 city data. Over the past year and a half of the pandemic, the problem has deepened with encampments becoming increasingly visible in the transit system and in public spaces across the city.

New Project Home Residence
Project HOME’s new residence Peg’s Place held their grand opening on Monday, September 27, 2021. The building’s 40 units will house men and women who are or have experience homelessness on N 8th Street in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Peg’s Place sits on the site of a former parking lot along N. 8th Street near the Yorktown section of the neighborhood. It’s conjoined with Gloria Casarez Residence, another Project Home property that provides housing to young adults who are homeless or have experienced homelessness. The building is LGBTQ-friendly.

The nonprofit housing group financed Peg’s Place with a mix of public and private funds, with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency kicking in the majority of the funding and other money coming from the city and private donors.

John Middleton, the managing partner and principal owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, along with his wife Leigh, were among the project’s philanthropic donors.

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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