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Pictured: UC Townhomes Coalition encampment area
Photo: Carlos Nogueras / AL DÍA News

UC Townhome residents now have until December to secure housing

The federal housing subsidies’ previous expiration date was in early October, but a new agreed-upon deadline has been issued.

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University City Townhomes residents may have a brief moment of respite as the U.S. Department of Housing and Development agreed to a new extension, allowing for some leeway for tenants who have yet to ascertain low-income housing. 

Originally, the federal housing subsidies observed an early October expiry date, but Kevin Feeley, a spokesperson for IBID Associates told the Philadelphia Inquirer that a new date was set forth for Dec. 27.

Feeley also told The Inquirer that residents were notified sometime last week. 

UC Townhomes have been at the heart of a city-wide conversation surrounding the demolition of the low-income housing units along Market Street in University City, home to mostly Black families, most of which have occupied their residences for several decades. 

Last year in July, Bret Altman, the building owner, sent a letter to tenants informing them the HUD contract would not be renewed and all residents would need to vacate their homes and arrange for new residence.

IBID’s spokesperson previously told AL DÍA that “the owners have been offering comprehensive relocation services to the residents, including help in securing Tenant Protection Vouchers that can be used to pay for alternative housing anywhere in the city (or anywhere in the U.S. if a resident so chooses); identifying and securing alternative affordable housing options.”

But sources say some vouchers have arrived as late as the last few months, giving residents a very limited window of time to conduct adequate apartment searches. Other residents noted the owner’s discontinued maintenance of the Townhomes premises.

Residents organized and during the Summer set up an encampment area in the courtyard at 40th and Market streets in protest of the demolition of the 70-unit, federally-subsidized low-income apartment complex.

Meanwhile, from City Hall, City Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier introduced a measure that imposed restrictions on development zones following calls from the coalition to protect the units from abandoning their low-income status. But the legislative spook was enough to prompt a lawsuit on behalf of IBID against Gauthier, in what they called an “ever-changing list of demands.” 

In early August, the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office forcibly disbanded the encampment, broke through the tents, and took down all camping equipment from the premises, prompting further resolve from the residents to preserve the Townhomes as low-income. 

September served as an inflection point for residents and City Hall alike when the coalition interrupted an event for construction execs to discuss affordable housing, where residents engaged with Gary Jonas, a top executive at the Building Association of Philadelphia, where Altman holds a lifetime appointment. 

All the while, Feeley, as well as IBID, have maintained they have no plans of evicting residents upon the contracts’ expiration. But for residents, the end of the contract means their housing will become unaffordable. 

Feeley also maintains that the end goal is to sell and redevelop, though no timeline was provided for doing so. 

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