The Philadelphia Housing Authority serves a crucial role in our city, providing over ten thousand units of affordable housing to low income residents. Most of those units are located in large developments, like the Richard Allen Homes in Poplar or the Southwark Homes in Queen Village. But PHA also owns a few thousand units of what’s known as “scattered site housing,” homes that are located in neighborhoods all over town which are meant to blend in seamlessly with privately owned properties next door.

Unfortunately, PHA hasn’t had enough money in its budget to properly maintain its entire stock of scattered site properties. As a result, there are hundreds of units owned by PHA which are sitting blighted and vacant and PHA doesn’t have the dollars to do anything about it. This often creates an incredibly frustrating situation for people that live near these properties, as you can probably imagine. On some blocks, with multiple blighted PHA properties, the broken windows theory is in full effect.

Five years ago, PHA made the unprecedented move to auction off a few hundred of their properties, a move that they repeated a couple years later. On Thursday, October 12th, they’ll be doing it again, though with a much smaller list of 52 properties. Barry Slosberg Auctions will be handing the sale, which will take place at 1pm at their offices at 25th & Ontario. And they created an adorable and useful video, to walk you through the entire process:

Buyers must bring a certified $3,000 deposit per property they hope to purchase. If you’re the winning bidder, you’ll need to put down 10% within a week and close within 30 days. As is typically the case with these auctions, there’s a 10% buyers premium added onto the price, with buyers also paying all closing costs and transfer tax. Even if you don’t want to buy one of these homes, if you’ve got some spare time it’s a pretty fun way to spend an afternoon. but as the guy in the video says, “this process is quite fast, so pay attention. If you wait and procrastinate, you will be too late.”

Here are just a few of the properties that will be up for auction:

1121 S. 20th St.
642 and 644 Emily St.
18 N. Yewdall St.

There are some very worthwhile parcels on the auction list, and some less than stellar properties as well. As was the case a few years ago, we’re thrilled that PHA is selling off some of its vacant properties, but we’re a little frustrated, feeling like they should be selling off additional homes. Especially as PHA focuses its energy on the huge project in Sharswood, we don’t see a world in which their budget will accommodate the renovation of the remaining hundreds (thousands?) of blighted properties on their books. And as time continues to pass, the people living next to those vacant homes continue to suffer.