By Alan Jaffe
The City of Philadelphia announced this week that it has received a Choice Neighborhoods Grant, a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to revitalize North Central Philadelphia.
As part of this concerted effort, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will receive $1 million over five years to transform vacant lots in the targeted section of the city through its Philadelphia LandCare program.
“This is a great opportunity for the city and the North Central Philadelphia community,” said PHS President Drew Becher. “Since 2000, the LandCare program has cleaned and greened 10 million square feet of vacant land in partnership with the city, resulting in higher property values, significant reductions in crime, and healthier environments in communities throughout Philadelphia.”
Deborah McColloch, director of the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), said, “PHS is a key partner and the LandCare program will be a strategic tool as we turn 700 vacant lots from blighting eyesores into neighborhood assets” in North Central Philadelphia through the Choice Neighborhoods program.
The Choice Neighborhoods program was created to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing, with local leaders, residents, and stakeholders working together to develop and implement a plan for transformation.
The Choice Neighborhoods effort in North Central Philadelphia is led by OHCD, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha, and Temple University.
In announcing the grant on June 30, Mayor Nutter said, “This is an exciting day for the residents of the North Central neighborhood and the entire City of Philadelphia. This grant is critical to our comprehensive revitalization strategy – it will help us to address many of the serious challenges facing this community: poverty, unemployment, poor educational attainment, and decreased opportunities for residents. I know that HUD’s investment will help us transform this community and act as a lightning rod for even more investment from local, state and private sources.”