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Photo: Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations
Philadelphia City Council will vote on its funding outline for its Neighborhood Preservation Initiative on Friday, Sept. 17. Photo: Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations

Ahead of funding outline vote, Philly City Council announces what’s next for its Neighborhood Preservation Initiative

The $400 million investment is being touted as a record influx for Philadelphia neighborhoods.

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On Wednesday, Sept. 15, City Council members and other city officials joined residents outside of a Northwest Philadelphia store to showcase the next steps of Council’s Neighborhood Preservation Initiative.

The Neighborhood Preservation Initiative (NPI) is a $400 million project involving enormous citywide investments into affordable housing production, house repairs, small business revitalization, and neighborhood preservation.

City Council approved NPI last year and also agreed to finance it. On Wednesday, Sept. 15, Council leaders, including Helen Gym At-Large and Council President Darrell L. Clarke, announced the next steps for the initiative.

Legislation will be introduced on Friday in Council, outlining spending for a range of programs that will benefit the city’s residents and neighborhoods. 

These programs include affordable housing production and preservation, support for first-time home buyers, permanent housing for those without homes, small business support and revitalization, and more. 

NPI’s four-year budget also includes funding for rent assistance programs, eviction prevention and tangled title support. 

Clarke said the NPI is the largest single investment in Philadelphia neighborhoods in the city’s history. 

“For decades, neighborhoods like Juniata Park, West Oak Lane, Wynnefield and others didn’t need much support, as they were relatively stable. But a variety of economic factors have caused decline in our neighborhoods – and they need the city’s help and support,” he said. 

The Council leaders and city officials gathered outside Gilben’s Bakery and Specialty Sandwich Shop on Stenton Avenue in West Oak Lane. The bakery has received commercial corridor revitalization and support from city commerce officials — an example of the type of support planned under NPI. 

Councilmember Gym posted about NPI on Twitter, writing that the initiative will help the city to fight an eviction crisis that is specifically targeting children and families led by women of color, among other benefits. 

“This funding will support local rent subsidies to make housing more affordable — truly critical for a city with the highest deep poverty rate in the country,” Gym wrote. 

Gym and fellow Councilmembers Kendra Brooks and Jamie Gauthier were the three leaders of the Emergency Housing Protections Act, passed by Council in the throes of COVID-19’s first Summer. Gym specifically initiated an eviction diversion program that has since been lauded for its success.

Crystal Bradley, owner of Gilben’s Bakery, spoke at the press conference on Wednesday morning, expressing gratitude for the improvements to her store, both inside and outside, that have been provided for her through the city. 

“Thanks to the city, our storefront and sidewalk are clean and orderly, and our signage is attractive to our customers. It makes them feel comfortable to come and shop here. I’m very glad to hear the city plans to invest in commercial corridor revitalization all across Philadelphia,” Bradley said. 

Bradley was joined at the news conference by Councilmembers Cherelle L. Parker and Maria Quiñones Sánchez, two leaders who have long been champions of economic development for Philadelphia neighborhoods. 

“NPI will spend closer to a half billion dollars that will impact the lives of our most vulnerable residents who have been hurt most directly by the coronavirus. It will help those in poverty, prevent those living on the margins from falling further behind, create sustainable jobs and assist small businesses – which need help the most right now,” Parker said. 

Also in attendance at the meeting was Anne Fadullon, Director of the City’s Department of Planning and Development, who spoke about some of the other programs that will be funded by NPI. 

“NPI will help us save more persons from eviction, help people realize the dream of homeownership, and get funding to developers that want to build affordable housing. I am looking forward to getting this funding out the door to improve the lives of Philadelphia residents,” Fadullon said. 

 

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