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Congreso de Latinos Unidos in Philly.
Congreso de Latinos Unidos building in Kensington. Photo: Carlos Nogueras / AL DÍA News

Two Philly-based Latino organizations will receive funding from the federal spending bill

The 2023 omnibus bill accounts for new project development in counties buzzing with Latino communities.

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Editor's note: A previous version of this article said CASA, a Latino and immigrant advocacy group, would be expanding operations to Mercer County. CASA in Mercer stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. The group appoints volunteers to advocate for abuse and neglected children, overall aiming to reduce the number of foster home re-entry. 

Latino-serving organizations in Pennsylvania will receive cash infusions to fund new project developments from the 2023 federal spending bill, signed into law by the Biden administration during the holidays. 

In Philadelphia, two Latino epicenters — Esperanza and Congreso de Latinos Unidos —  will receive roughly $1.65 million between the two ahead of the new year and were part of 15 total in the city to obtain new funding. 

Both organizations are located in North Philly, where a majority of the city’s Hispanic population resides. 

A faith-based nonprofit headquartered in North Philly just blocks from Hunting Park, Esperanza serves the city’s Hispanic population via numerous community development programs like charter schools, housing counseling programs, and a college that awards Associate Degrees. 

Poised to receive $550,000, Esperanza “plans to acquire, demolish, and remediate an industrial chemical processing facility in the heart of North Philadelphia,” a press release from the office of Senator Bob Casey. 

“The removal of this blighted structure will benefit the health and safety of the surrounding community and provide opportunities to redevelop the site,” it continued. 

Casey’s press release does not detail which chemical plant in North Philly is prepped for acquisition, nor has Esperanza made any public statements surrounding new funding or plans to redevelop an abandoned site. 

AL DÍA has reached out to Casey’s office and Esperanza, and is awaiting a response. 

But barring the specifics, the industrial area situated in North Philly is a neighborhood surrounded by structural blight, including the infamous Conrail stretch, which was restored in 2017, though the former councilmember for the district warned it was “likely to get worse before it gets better."

The Conrail stretch, as it stands, is no longer gorged by encampment sites, but the surrounding paths where there is no housing or construction are often used as an unregulated dumping ground by developers, community leaders said. 

Further south, in Kensington, Congreso is at the heart of Hispanic community services for the city’s Spanish-speaking population. 

Their headquarters in West Somerset is usually humming with clients seeking assistance for any number of services spanning education, employment, healthcare, housing, and family planning. 

The spending bill awarded Congreso $1.1 million for structural repairs, which “will increase accessibility to Congreso’s facility in Philadelphia through the installation of an ADA-compliant ramp to the entrance, new doors to the facility, a renovated lobby, and repairs to the elevators,” Casey’s press release said. 

Congreso hopes the structural developments “will allow for more people to access the Congreso facilities and services they provide.”

Currently, the entrance to Congreso’s offices has a staircase on the left-hand side of the block and a ramp on the right, but it is unclear whether the ramp complies with regulations imposed by the ADA or if modifications are planned to improve accessibility. 

AL DÍA has reached out to Congreso and is awaiting a response. 

Outside of Philly, CASA — the immigration advocacy group responsible for expanding Spanish-language materials in York poll sites — will also receive $1.4 million to “triple the number of York residents it serves each year” via more office space, classrooms, vocational training labs, and a multipurpose meeting room in a new location. 

York is home to over 14,000 Hispanic residents, many of whom receive Spanish-language services through CASA. 

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