Vacant properties in Point Breeze transferred for affordable housing

The Women’s Community Revitalization Project announced on Tuesday that it has secured two publicly-owned vacant properties in Point Breeze and is planning to build around 30 affordable houses in the neighborhood, which has seen sharp property-value increases over the last few years.

The city’s Vacant Property Review Committee approved the sale of the two properties, on the 1300 block of South Capitol Street and the 1400 block of South Taylor Street, on Tuesday morning. To develop the affordable-housing units, WCRP will partner with the South Philadelphia health services organization CATCH (Citizens Acting Together Can Help) and with Kramer + Marks Architects, which is based in Ambler. The partnership plans two- and three-story homes available for rent to low-income families, with some of the homes set aside for veterans.

“Philadelphia’s supply of affordable housing is severely strained, particularly in places like Point Breeze,” said WCRP Executive Director Nora Lichtash, in a press release. “We forget that our city is home to over 400,000 individuals living below the poverty line. That portion of the population alone would rank among the nation’s 50 largest cities. This project reflects our belief that people who are committed and invested in their communities should not be pushed out because of their income-level and a lack of affordable options.”  

WCRP has built affordable-housing projects mostly in eastern North Philadelphia. The group was based in Northern Liberties for 17 years before moving to Kensington. Lichtash was active in campaigns to create the city’s Land Bank and the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities, which advocates for “development without displacement.”

Steve Cobb, an aide to Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who represents Point Breeze, said that CATCH has been interested in developing affordable housing for veterans on one of the properties for a number of years.

The project, on two sites a few blocks apart, will be named for Mamie Nichols. Nichols led the Point Breeze Federation, which developed community gardens in the neighborhood, until her death in 2009. The Capitol Street site is directly across from 2012 Wharton Street, where developer Howard Silverman has been pursuing a controversial market-rate housing project for a number of years.

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