Press 2013

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Press Releases 2013

December 17, 2013

Mayor Nutter, Wells Fargo Announces Grants to Stabilize Neighborhoods
Wells Fargo grants $1.3 million to Philadelphia nonprofits

Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC), today announced donations from Wells Fargo totaling $1.3 million to six Philadelphia-based programs to help further the local recovery of neighborhoods deeply affected by the housing crisis. The grants are part of Wells Fargo’s $10 million commitment announced in August of 2012 to provide down payment assistance grants, and to support homebuyer programs and local initiatives to help consumers achieve sustainable home ownership.

Mayor Nutter and the Office of Housing and Community Development worked with Wells Fargo to ensure the funds were utilized to assist the City of Philadelphia in five key areas:

Transitional and permanent supportive housing, shelter and support services for the homeless

Homeownership, affordable housing construction, rehabilitation, and counseling for low- and moderate-income residents

Neighborhood beautification and improvement

Workforce development programs

Small and micro-business assistance

Local organizations receiving grants today are:

Agencies and programs that support the City of Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program

The Fairmount Park Conservancy’s TreePhilly program


Project HOME

The Enterprise Center

Salvation Army

The grants are funded through Wells Fargo’s CityLIFTSM program, which is designed to help stabilize neighborhoods and help people buy homes by making properties more affordable with down payment assistance available for eligible prospective buyers. In addition to the local grants, Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFTSM and CityLIFTSM programs provide down payment assistance to qualifying families for homeownership. In Philadelphia, over 450 new homeowners have received down payments assistance grants through the CityLIFTSM program.

“I am pleased to partner with Wells Fargo on supporting much needed housing and small business programs and services for Philadelphians,” said Mayor Nutter. “These grants will provide the needed capital for these organizations to reduce homelessness, prevent foreclosures, enhance the environment, and help small businesses owners. These programs and this funding will strengthen Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.”

“The grants will help stabilize local Philadelphia neighborhoods that are struggling back from the housing crisis,” said Greg Redden, Wells Fargo’s Regional President. “These nonprofits are actively leading efforts to help stabilize neighborhoods, and based on the input we received from the City, we believe it appropriate to further support them with the CityLIFTSM program local initiatives funds.”

Background on the Agencies/Programs Receiving Funding
Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program
In April of 2008 as the mortgage and financial crisis was rapidly unfolding, the City of Philadelphia responded, and the development of the Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program began. Since the program’s inception in June 2008, more than 6,700 homes have been saved from foreclosure through a combination of a hotline, outreach to homeowners, housing counseling, legal assistance, and a court supervised homeowner lender consolation process. The grant is being used to reduce foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies.

The Fairmount Park Conservancy’s TreePhilly program
TreePhilly is a tree planting initiative led by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation that directly engages Philadelphia property owners, businesses and neighborhood residents to improve their communities by planting and maintaining trees. The grant is being used for neighborhood beautification.

Clarifi is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1966 to help individuals identify and secure the most important assets in their lives, providing lifelong financial literacy that allows individuals and families gain control of their finances, reduce debt and achieve financial goals. The grant is being used for financial education and counseling.

Project HOME
Project HOME achieves its mission through a continuum of care comprised of street outreach, a range of supportive housing, and comprehensive services. The grant is being used for health and wellness initiatives.

The Enterprise Center
Founded in 1989 by the Wharton Small Business Development Center, The Enterprise Center (TEC) provides access to capital, building capacity, business education and economic development opportunities to high-potential, minority entrepreneurs. The grant is being used for workforce development.

Salvation Army
Since 1886, The Salvation Army has been providing social and spiritual services to communities throughout the world. Today, through over 3,500 service centers in the eastern region of the United States, The Army’s spiritual and social services assist millions of homeless, working poor, children, youth, addicted, elderly, and abused families and individuals. The grant is being used for workforce development.

Wells Fargo Background Information
NeighborhoodLIFT and CityLIFT SM
The NeighborhoodLIFTSM program is a collaborative program of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Wells Fargo Foundation, and NeighborWorks America, an independent nonprofit organization. The CityLIFTSM program is designed to provide down payment assistance and homebuyer education programs in areas most impacted by the financial crisis. The program was developed in response to the 2012 settlement with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and is a collaboration between Wells Fargo Bank N.A. and NeighborWorks America.

December 3, 2013

City, APM, & Jonathan Rose Companies Celebrate Ribbon Cutting of $47 Million Mixed-Use Transit-Oriented Development
Paseo Verde: Affordable Housing that is Environmentally Sustainable

Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke, and Joe Casey, General Manager of SEPTA joined Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and Jonathan Rose Companies to celebrate the ribboncutting of Paseo Verde, a mixed-use transit-oriented development at 9th and Berks Streets.

Paseo Verde is the first LEED-ND platinum development in the United States and only the second in the world. Environmentally sensitive features include green and blue roofs, permeable paving, water gardens to retain and manage water, solar panels, and the use of local, recyclable and renewable materials. Materials were chosen that reduced environmentally triggered health conditions, such as asthma.

“The completion of Paseo Verde brings Philadelphia another step closer to being America’s greenest city,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. “Its location, design and materials have created a world-class and unique, sustainable development. The green design, proximity to transportation and the 550 construction jobs created by this project demonstrate that Paseo Verde is already having an impact on this neighborhood’s environment and its economy.”

“APM has been dedicated to the strengthening of this neighborhood,” said Nilda Ruiz, President/CEO, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM). “Paseo Verde makes our community more vibrant and demonstrates that affordable housing and sustainable development can go hand-in-hand.”

The mixed-use development offers 120 affordable and market-rate apartments and 30,000 square feet of commercial and community service space. The Temple University train station is the fourth busiest stop in the regional rail system, serving over 7,700 daily passengers on 12 regional rail lines. Fourteen percent of the units will be accessible to persons with disabilities, as is the Temple University train station.

“Paseo Verde links housing and transit,” said Joe Casey, General Manager, SEPTA. “Our regional rail system is one of the most comprehensive in the country, and provides residents of Paseo Verde and the entire neighborhood with access to employment, shopping, and family throughout the region.”

“Paseo Verde is a blueprint for developing communities of opportunity,” said Jonathan F.P. Rose, President, Jonathan Rose Companies. “Literally touching the North Philadelphia SEPTA station and adjacent to the educational and cultural resources of Temple University, the project provides green healthy, energy efficient housing for a range of family incomes. Together with on-site health and family services, Paseo Verde provides a complete community platform for its residents to thrive.”

Paseo Verde complements City investments in previous APM housing and commercial initiatives. The multi-phase Pradera development created new affordable housing that raised neighborhood property values, while Borinquen Plaza (at Germantown and Berks) attracted a bank, a supermarket and other retail options to the community. The Sheridan Street Green Affordable Housing Development added 13 environmentally friendly single-family homes to the neighborhood.

“This environmentally friendly initiative transformed an underutilized lot and added another piece to a walkable and sustainable community,” said Councilman Darrell Clarke, President, Philadelphia City Council. “Paseo Verde is a cutting-edge development, and it furthers the revitalization of this community.”

The community service space offers a primary care facility operated by Public Health Management Corporation, social services provided by APM, and a pharmacy. An on-site technology education center provides local residents an opportunity to access state-of-the-art technology.

“This development was truly a partnership between the private sector, APM, and all levels of government,” said Brian A. Hudson, Sr., Executive Director, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). “I am pleased that the tax credits provided by PHFA and the private sector investment they attracted will have a lasting impact in this community.”

“At JPMorgan Chase we know that capital turns around communities, and we’re proud to support this development,” said David Walsh, Senior VP of Community Development Banking, JPMorgan Chase. “Affordable, sustainable, quality housing is vital to every community, and Paseo Verde is all three.” JPMorgan Chase played an integral role in helping to fund this project by providing nearly $41 million through a significant lending commitment, low income housing tax credits and new market tax credits, which are an important vehicle to help spur both community development and economic growth in neighborhoods that need it most.

About LEED
LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized mark of excellence and sustainable building certification process. LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: Sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND), developed in collaboration with Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council, emphasizes elements that bring buildings and infrastructure together and relates the neighborhood to its local and regional landscape.

November 20, 2013

MAYOR NUTTER joins the Nicetown CDC, The Community Builders, Inc. and Universal Companies to celebrate the
ribbon-cutting of Nicetown Court II: new development brings new environmentally sustainable housing and commercial space to Nicetown

Mayor Michael A. Nutter led the Nicetown CDC, Universal Companies and The Community Builders, Inc. in celebrating the ribbon-cutting of Nicetown Court II, a 50-unit affordable housing development with commercial space in the 4400 block of Germantown Avenue. Supported by federal Neighborhood Stimulus Program 2 funds (NSP2), Nicetown Count II is integral to the comprehensive revitalization strategy of the entire Nicetown community.

“Nicetown Court I was the first step in the revitalization of Nicetown,” said Mayor Nutter. “Nicetown Court II continues this process of renewal and gives this community new vitality and opportunity. It provides quality affordable housing and spurs economic development through new commercial space. Nicetown Court II is a transit-oriented development that offers residents easy access to six Regional Rail lines and three bus routes at Wayne Junction. ”

The development provides modern, attractive, and safe housing for low-income individuals and retail spaces to serve residents of Nicetown and the commuters that utilize the Wayne Junction Station. The attractive first floor retail space features the legendary restaurant, Sister Muhammad’s Kitchen, with indoor/outdoor seating, a pharmacy, and a coffee shop.

The design of Nicetown Court II emphasizes energy efficiency through the use of high efficiency fixtures and insulation methods and materials. The project is designed to meet LEED Silver Standards, and has exceeded where possible Energy Star performance. Careful planning was given to managing stormwater and water conservation, including landscaping to minimize soil erosion, the installation of drought tolerant plants, and use of a strong stormwater management system of inlets and basins.

“I am pleased with the progress of this development,” said 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass. “Nicetown Court II gives residents and businesses a chance to grow and thrive. This is a place where families can live, and be proud of their homes, creating a bright future for this neighborhood.”

The City provided $5.5 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2) stimulus funds, which leveraged $10 million in private investment through tax credits. Hudson Housing Capital is the investor. An NSP2 grant of $1,500,000 was provided by The Community Builders, Inc. TD Bank facilitated the construction loan.

“This project is important for the City,” said Brian A. Hudson, Sr., Executive Director and CEO of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. “Tax credits and other funds made this development possible, and we are thrilled that this community will benefit greatly from this investment.”

The development offers added safety to the neighborhood because of repaired and replaced damaged sidewalks and sections of roads, new curb cuts, repaired old tree wells and replacement of existing trees. Additional trees and tree wells, lighting on the residential and the commercial spaces, and secure bicycle racks are features that improve the pedestrian experience in and around Nicetown Court II.

“We are so proud of the transformation of the Nicetown community, and we recognize that Nicetown Court II provides additional quality housing for our neighbors, opportunity to improve our economic sustainability and a safer environment for our families. Thank you to all of our development partners and funders.” said Zakariyya Abdur-Rahman, president of the Nicetown CDC.

“This project was designed to positively impact the Nicetown/Tioga community, and it is achieving the goal, particularly given our long term commitment,” said Rahim Islam, President/CEO of Universal Companies. “This investment was the solution to eliminate blight and assist those under financial distress. I am very proud of this project and the outcome.”

“Nicetown Court II advances our mission to create quality housing as a platform for opportunity in Philadelphia,” said Rob Fossi, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for The Community Builders, Inc. “Together with our partners, we have created new affordable housing for 50 families, along with attractive retail spaces that will serve the entire neighborhood. We look forward to continuing our work in this vibrant neighborhood.”

Nicetown Court II compliments other neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including the development of Nicetown Court I, with 37 units of affordable housing and 3,900 square feet of commercial space. There were 284 construction workers employed in completion of this project.

October 28, 2013

Committee on Public Property and Public Works Committee
Hon. Bobby Henon, Chair October 28, 2013
Hearing on Bill No. 130156

Testimony of Michael Koonce, Executive Vice President Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation

Good morning, Councilman Henon, members of the Public Property and Public Works Committee and members of City Council. I am Michael Koonce, Executive Vice President of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation. I am here to present testimony on behalf of the Administration on Bill No. 130156, which would create a Land Bank for the City of Philadelphia. I am joined by Brian Abernathy, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and John Carpenter, Deputy Executive Director at P.R.A.

The Nutter Administration supports the creation of a Land Bank. The Land Bank is a strategic acquisition and disposition tool and will be the next step in the City’s efforts to address the problem of vacant and blighted properties and to return those properties to productive reuse.

Over the past two years, we took steps to streamline the cumbersome and confusing processes that have surrounded the disposition of publically-owned vacant land and deterred development in Philadelphia. We also knew that this work would smooth the transition to a Land Bank.

Those steps include:

Development of comprehensive policies for land disposition;

A citywide data system designed to track inventory and business practices around inventory;

Creation of a web site that lists available publicly owned land, describes parcel shape and size as well as zoning designation, and allows interested buyers to submit expressions of interest electronically;

Upfront pricing for most available parcels; and

A competitive sales process for more desirable properties.

This past summer we also began working with the Department of Records and the Streets Department’s Survey District to identify and clear up City liens and long-standing title ambiguities associated with individual parcels so that they can be more quickly conveyed to a buyer.

We believe that a Land Bank will have many benefits. A Land Bank will be able to acquire property using the tax sale process, and more quickly assemble these properties with those already in public ownership. By bidding only the amount of the City’s claims for delinquent taxes and unpaid liens, the Land Bank will have the power under state law to obtain a property ahead of any other bidder at a tax sale.This will facilitate the efficient acquisition of properties, and overcome the superior bidding power of speculators. It will allow the City to more efficiently and inexpensively complete assemblages of property and create larger and more attractive parcels for both public purposes and private development.

The Land Bank will improve the development process. Public agencies frequently own several properties on a single block that are close to, but not adjacent to, each other. These properties are separated by privately held, often tax delinquent, properties. In the past, the City has used eminent domain to acquire these intervening properties. But the eminent domain process is complicated, time consuming, and, by and large, too expensive to use, especially considering that NTI funds are nearly expended and federal resources have decreased.

The Land Bank’s new tax sale power will allow the City to acquire these intermingled properties for just the cost of bringing the property to the tax sale. With a less expensive process the City will be able to assemble more of its fragmented inventory into usable-sized parcels making the current inventory more useful and valuable to everyone.

A Land Bank containing all of the City’s surplus inventory would also improve the maintenance of the property within that inventory, as it is less expensive and more efficient for one entity to maintain the property than for four agencies to do so. This means existing maintenance resources will be better-leveraged. That said, additional resources will be required if the parcels are to be maintained in the fashion we’d all like to see them maintained, and, if a Land Bank is created by City Council, we will request additional resources during the FY15 budget process.

From the customer perspective, whether it is a homeowner seeking a side yard, a developer seeking to assemble a development site, or a Council member inquiring about a property, the one point of contact a Land Bank will offer a much simpler inquiry and disposition process.

We support creation of a Land Bank, but we do have some concerns.

While the City must maintain a strategic plan for the acquisition and disposition of property, we are concerned that a highly-mandated, specific strategic planning process such as the one laid out in the bill as introduced, would be onerous, inefficient, and costly. Instead, we would favor a more flexible process, that may be subject to Council’s approval.

We also prefer the simplest, most direct means of Council oversight of conveyances by the Land Bank, and that would be by means of a Council resolution, and only a Council resolution.

Finally, we believe that pricing policies must be flexible to enable the Land Bank to react nimbly to individual circumstances. The current language of the bill may constrain the decision-making process. With both policies and individual conveyances subject to Council approval, we see no need for the bill to be highly prescriptive in an area where flexibility and responsiveness are key.

Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony. My colleagues and I will be happy to answer any questions that you or other members of Council may have.

October 15, 2013

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony For Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments: Affordable Rental Housing in the Mantua Section of Philadelphia

Mt. Vernon Apartments in Mantua. This section is on Wallace Street between 33rd and 34th Streets. Other sections are on 33rd Street, 34th Street and on Haverford Avenue.

PHILADELPHIA, PA-October 15, 2013- Philadelphia City Councilwoman, Jannie Blackwell was joined by resident community members and other public officials to celebrate the completion of Phase I renovations for Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments. Mt. Vernon Manor is located in the Mantua section of Philadelphia around 33rd and Wallace.

Mt. Vernon Manor, Phase I, is a 75-unit apartment complex, with one, two and three bedroom affordable apartments. Construction began in September 2012 and was completed in September 2013. Amenities in the apartments include modern kitchens and baths, new floors, camera driven security system, community room and offices, upgraded exterior finishes, and landscaping. There are also five fully accessible apartments for persons with physical disabilities (including one unit for those that are visually or hearing impaired).

“Mt. Vernon Manor is the type of investment the 3rd District needs,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. “I support this project because it gives the community access to quality housing that they can afford. I know how hard people are working to support their families, and they deserve to live in a decent residence and neighborhood that they can call home.”

“The former design and operations of the apartment buildings were a deterrent to the community,” said Michael Thorpe, Chairman of the Mt Vernon Manor Board. “This new design will encourage businesses, homeowners, and tenants to invest in the neighborhood, making it a great place to live and work.”

“Mt. Vernon Manor had fallen into disrepair, with a high vacancy rate within the last 10 years,” said Roy Diamond, President of Diamond & Associates, development consultant to the project. “The Mt. Vernon Manor Board believed in revitalizing this complex, and we knew that the investment would change this community.”

Each kitchen has energy efficient appliances, which reduces utility bills for residents and positively impacts the environment. The units meet Energy Star® Standards and Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s (PHFA) standards for Preservation projects.

“These apartments will remain affordable, even as rental and sales values in this community continue to rise,” said Brian Abernathy, Interim Executive Director, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. “This neighborhood is in the process of dramatically transforming. The increase in housing developments to cater to the area university students and staffs created a gap for individuals in need of affordable quality housing. Mt. Vernon Manor will help fill that gap.”

“This project was funded with monies from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program,” said Deborah McColloch, Director, Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD). “It fulfills the mission of NSP (Neighborhood Stabilization Program) by taking a community that was negatively affected by the collapse of the housing market and the changes in the economy, and giving it a chance to thrive. OHCD is committed to creating opportunities to provide sustainable, quality, and affordable housing for Philadelphia residents. I am also proud to note that 155 construction workers were employed as a result of this project.”

The overall Mt. Vernon Manor project is a total of nine buildings, spanning eight blocks. Fifty additional apartments in three buildings are planned for revitalization by Mt. Vernon Manor, Inc. in Phase II, and is expected to be completed by 2015.

September 18, 2013

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY FOR THE FAIRTHORNE: Plans for Seniors to enjoy affordable housing in Roxborough

PHILADELPHIA, PA-September 18, 2013 – Intercommunity Action, Inc. (Interact) broke ground this morning at the corners of Ridge and Fairthorne Avenues in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia for their latest development project, “The Fairthorne.”

The Fairthorne, a multi-million dollar community investment, will ultimately be a four-story, 40-unit, independent, low-income apartment building for older adults. It is conveniently located near public transportation, supermarkets, and other community resources. Housing counseling, adult daycare services, geriatric counseling, and access to a state of the art senior center will be available to each resident and provided by Journey’s Way, the aging services division of Interact.

“After a car dealership moved from its Ridge Avenue location in Roxborough, several uses for the vacant lot in the mixed residential and commercial neighborhood were proposed, including fast-food restaurants and banks,” said David Bolin, President and CEO of Interact. “However, the community believed that an apartment building for seniors would be a better fit for the neighborhood, and would help address the shortage of quality affordable senior housing in northwest Philadelphia.” The Fairthorne complex will be the most recent example of Interact’s ongoing commitment to serve seniors in Philadelphia.

Credit for funding this project belongs in part to various city and state agencies, corporate investors, public officials, and civic organizations. Project funders include the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), Redstone Equity, LLC, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. The Fairthorne also received support from Councilman Curtis Jones, Senator Shirley Kitchen, State Representative Pamela DeLissio, and the Ridge Park Civic Association.

“OHCD is proud to fund this development,” said Deborah McColloch, Director of OHCD. “Senior housing is an important component in providing safe, convenient, and affordable housing for all residents. This project gives seniors access to many area businesses, and encourages independent living. I look forward to the construction of this complex.”

Intercommunity Action, Inc. (Interact) is a non-profit community based organization that provides services in the areas of Aging, Behavioral Health, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities for the purpose of assisting people to achieve their maximum potential and enhancing their quality of life. Interact sponsors the only two affordable senior housing developments in the Roxborough community, Pensdale Village and Pensdale II.

*The Fairthorne is anticipated to open in early 2015.

June 17, 2013

Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Announces Percent for Arts Grants

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) today announced nine recipients of grant funds from its nationally recognized Percent for Art Program. The Fund for Art and Civic Engagement (FACE) program selected the recipients from 42 proposals received for community-based art projects.

The awards were announced at the installation of “Wallpaper of Words” in which students from the Fairhill neighborhood in kindergarten through fifth grade created screen prints that fuse their original poems with self-portraits. The screen prints were then wheat-pasted onto walls at La Caribeña Bakery on the corner of 2nd and Tioga Streets, and other public spaces in the neighborhood.

Julia Guerrero, director of the Percent for Arts program, said, “These grants will facilitate innovative works of public art that involve communities and inspire individuals to think about their surroundings in new and exciting ways.”

Brian Abernathy, interim executive director of the PRA, said, “FACE reflects the values and mission of the PRA – to reimagine, renew and sustain Philadelphia’s communities. These installations will engage the communities in which they are located.”

In November 2012 the PRA announced two grant opportunities:

FACE: Gap Financing invited artists and community organizations to apply for gap financing for new public art and civic engagement projects that required additional financing to come to fruition. Six grants of $2,500 each were awarded.

FACE: the Vacancy invited artists to propose original and innovative concepts to use art to temporarily activate vacant land owned by the PRA. Three grants of $5,000 each were awarded.

Proposals were reviewed by two teams of arts and culture professionals.

Angela Jubinville, executive director of Centro Nueva Creación whose students participated in “Wallpaper of Words,” said, “The FACE projects turn the community from viewers of art into creators of art. Our communities will be strengthened by the participation of our neighbors in these projects. We are all grateful to the PRA for making this community art possible.”

The FACE: Gap Financing projects are:

Project Name: “Wallpaper of Words”
Applicant: Centro Nueva Creación
Project Description: The Wallpaper of Words project will engage the community of young Goodlands artists in wheat-pasting screen prints onto public spaces within their neighborhood. Students in kindergarten – fifth grade who are enrolled in the Centro Nueva Creación after school program will participate in creating screen prints that fuse their original poems with self-portraits. Sixty students will participate, working collaboratively to create a minimum of 60 screen prints to paste on at least four, privately-owned, publicly viewable walls. Individual screen prints will be placed in manageable, artistic groupings on each wall to have the greatest visual impact.

Project Name: “Benson Park’s New FACE”
Applicant: Public Workshop
Project Description: Working with Benson Park stakeholders, young adults and children from the neighborhood, Public Workshop will collaboratively design and build playable park furniture – innovative seating for the park that provides places for adults to sit and young children to play. The seating will be designed through two multi-generational community design workshops and built and installed by working with a group of young adults from the neighborhood.

Project Name: “Street Movies!”
Applicant: Scribe Video Center
Project Description: Street Movies! is a free film/discussion series that takes place in 14 locations throughout the Philadelphia region (parks, playgrounds, lots, etc.) providing community residents with the opportunity to view independent films. Neighbors gather, lawn chairs in hand, to enjoy a drive-in without the cars. Programmers select works that have resonance and meaning for the residents of the city’s culturally diverse neighborhoods. Programming includes works that are entertaining, but may focus on social issues such as clean energy, healthy foods and green spaces. Prior to the screening, audiences will be entertained by live performers (music, spoken word, dance). During each screening, a professional host facilitates the event and promotes interactive discussions often with the filmmakers on-site. Programs will be appropriate for family audiences.

Project Name: “Invisible River”
Applicant: Alie & the Brigade
Project Description: Invisible River is a free, public performance that celebrates Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River. Audience members will gather in the parking lot by the Strawberry Mansion Bridge on Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park while the Brigade conducts an aerial dance that suspends two dancers beneath the trusses of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. While the audience watches this aerial dance take place, a chorus of singers will move around and between the audience. Elliott Harvey of the musical group A Stick and A Stone is composing the music for the event and directing the chorus of 10 singers and Brigade collaborator Christina Gesualdi is crafting a travelling sound score by designing the pathways and presence of the singers. The performance will take place during the 2013 Dance/USA annual conference, which hosts professional dancers from around the country.

Project Name: “Philly ReACTS”
Applicant: First Person Arts
Project Description: First Person Arts will organize public performances called Philly ReACTS for regional audiences at least 48 hours after selected major news events. Philly ReACTS performances will transform historical settings into a platform for channeling the region’s collective response to the event. These innovative, high quality, spontaneous responses will be presented by a collective of historians, artists, journalists, activists, behavioral health professionals and everyday people who will provide divergent perspectives on the same challenging topic or issue(s). Performances will be multi-disciplinary, but rooted in a strong historical foundation. Locations selected will be currently underutilized, but will be uniquely relevant to the current event.

Project Name: “Rain Barrel Project Phase II”
Applicant: Mt Airy Art Garage
Project Description: Rain Barrel Project Phase II will be the painting and installing 10 rain barrels in Chestnut Hill, Mt Airy and Germantown. Under the direction of experienced artists and certified art education specialists, Mt Airy Art Garage will oversee creating unique works of painted art on the rain barrels through collaboration with the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Germantown High School Stained Glass Project, Homelink, The Adult Day Care Center, CW Henry School, and Springside/Chestnut Hill Academy. Both students and elders went to the Art Garage to paint their designs on the barrels, which were showcased in an exhibition about Earth Day at Mt Airy Arts Garage before being installed around the project area and will be used to collect rainwater which will be used to water nearby planters. This project conveys both artistic quality and lessons in sustainable practices.

The “FACE: the Vacancy” projects are:
Project Name: “The House That Was Here”
Artist: Maria Moller
Project Description: The House That Was Here is a collaborative project with residents of Point Breeze that will inhabit vacant lots in Point Breeze with re‐creations of the homes that once stood there. The walls and roofs of these small, sculptural rowhomes will display neighborhood stories and memories, facts and opinions about past and present development, and photographs of community members. Both the content and the physical structures will be developed through workshops with community members of all ages. After the houses are installed, they will continue to be interactive and community-driven, as additional stories and voices are added to their walls.

Project Name: “Temporary Media Zone”
Artist: Laura Deutch
Project Description: Messages in Motion (MIM) will create a Temporary Media Zone in a vacant lot in Philadelphia focusing on the production and distribution of short video messages and hyperlocal media by neighborhood residents. Using the MIM mobile media van, neighborhood residents will be invited to learn a variety of filmmaking techniques, audio recording techniques, and online tools for documenting personal and neighborhood stories. Once a week, community screenings will showcase the videos produced by residents alongside a selection of independent and popular films. By using media production exercises and tools, the project will encourage exploration of the familiar, promoting a stewardship and appreciation of the immediate environment, and a pride in one’s neighborhood. The eye-catching nature of the van both activates underused spaces in the neighborhood, and demystifies art-making and media production processes. The overarching goal of the project is to train and empower the residents in the neighborhood to continue producing their own media that reflects their interests, challenges and goals for themselves and their communities.

Project Name: “FreeShop CoffeeShop”
Artist: Kathryn Sclavi
Project Description: This creative placemaking project envisions a pilot pop-up FreeShop CoffeeShop based around a weekly visit from a mobile coffee cart that will provide a place for community members to have a “third space” (aka a location other than their home and place of employment) to enjoy free coffee and a weekly open-mic event. The temporary coffee shop is set up once a week and includes portable upcycled tables and chairs, a bright canopy and hand-painted signage.

About the Percent for Art Program
Philadelphia was the first city in the United States to adopt programs for acquiring and commissioning works of contemporary public art for new development in urban renewal areas. The Redevelopment Authority pioneered the Percent for Art Program in March 1959, becoming the first program in the United States to make the commissioning of fine arts an integral part of the urban renewal process. The Percent for Art Program requires that redevelopers who build on land acquired from and assembled by the Redevelopment Authority must budget at least one percent of the total building construction costs toward the commissioning of original, site-specific works of art. The Percent for Art program encourages redevelopers to conceive of innovative applications for public art, and to create work that engages the public and challenges them to think about their surroundings in new and exciting ways.

June 12, 2013

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Cordray Visits Philadelphia, Recognizes City’s Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program
City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Team Up to Save 5,700 Homes from Foreclosure

Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), visited Philadelphia to join Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Judge Annette Rizzo in marking the fifth anniversary of the City of Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program.

“In 2008 when the foreclosure crisis hit, Philadelphia responded,” said Mayor Nutter. “We’ve invested more than $15 million over the past five years, and we’ve kept 5,700 families in their homes, and kept blocks all over this city from being dragged down by the effects of foreclosure.”

In April of 2008 as the mortgage and financial crisis was rapidly unfolding, the City of Philadelphia took action. The First Judicial District issued an order that stated no owner-occupied residential property in Philadelphia could be foreclosed upon without the homeowner having the opportunity to meet with the lender as part of a court-supervised conciliation process. The City funded a hotline (SaveYourHomePhilly hotline, 215-334-HOME), outreach to homeowners, housing counseling, and legal assistance.

Since the program began in June 2008, more than 5,700 homes have been saved from foreclosure.

“I am proud of the work that has been done through this program,” said Judge Annette Rizzo. “Today recognizes what can be accomplished when the Court joins with City agencies and the legal community to react to extraordinary circumstances to meet one mission and stay on task: saving homes and neighborhoods one address at a time.”

“This program has been successful because of the City’s 30-year commitment to housing counseling and neighborhood services,” said Deborah McColloch, Director of Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD). “We had the programs in place, and when the foreclosure crisis struck, we were ready to respond.”

To give homeowners every opportunity to prevent the loss of their homes:

Outreach by neighborhood organizations reaches homeowners facing foreclosure at their homes and alerts them to available resources

SaveYourHomePhilly hotline connects homeowners to housing counselors following case analysis by trained paralegals

Housing counselors assist homeowners in negotiating mortgage modifications with lenders and in developing the financial skills to stay in the home

Pro bono attorneys provide legal assistance when necessary in negotiating with lenders

Homeowners who are going through the foreclosure prevention process also have the opportunity to participate in the “Tools for Financial Growth” program, managed by OHCD and funded by PNC, which helps them develop the financial capability to remain in their home after it has been saved.

The City Foreclosure prevention program has been recognized both nationally and internationally, and has been replicated in places like Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Delaware, and Maryland.

Foreclosure Prevention Program Statistics:

15,417 Homeowners participating

5,755 Homes saved through active participation

2,815 Participant homes sold at sheriff’s sale

6,304 Outcomes still pending

543 Other

About the homeowners participating in the recognition program:
Veteran Alvin Turner’s mortgage payments were recorded incorrectly, causing his lender to believe that he was behind on his mortgage. Mr. Turner, a resident of Mt. Airy, sought help from the Unemployment Information Center to rectify the situation. With the assistance of his persistent counselor, Mr. Turner was able to demonstrate that he had in fact made his payments, and the foreclosure process was halted. In addition to saving his home from foreclosure, Mr. Turner participated in the Tools for Financial Growth Program.

After being a tractor trailer driver for 10 years, Fred Brinkley, Sr. of Northwest Philadelphia suffered injuries in a car accident rendering him disabled. While awaiting approval of his disability claim, Mr. Brinkley was unable to work and fell behind on his mortgage. Center in the Park assisted Mr. Brinkley to obtain a Homeowner Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) loan to become current on his mortgage. On June 13, 2013, Mr. Brinkley will finalize the HEMAP loan and save his house from foreclosure.

Press Release 2015


Press Release 2014


Press Release 2012