In the area surrounding Temple University, we've seen so much new construction, almost exclusively of the student housing variety. When we say "almost exclusively," that does leave a little room for construction that doesn't target the large group of transient renters looking to make the best time of their four (or more!) years of college. Habitat For Humanity is currently building five homes on the 1900 block of Turner Street, just south of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, which are being sold as affordable housing units. Previously, 1905-17 Turner St. were vacant lots. An unattractive PHA property next door was built a few years ago.
You can see, today the five two-story homes have now been framed out. One of them already has windows. The project has been dubbed HOPE Village.
One of the homes is being called the Pope Francis House, after a donor came forward with a $60K donation with the hopes that the community will collectively match the donation. According to Habitat For Humanity, "the donor has been inspired by the Pope’s dedication to economic justice, equality, and peace, and hopes to inspire others by inviting volunteers from local Catholic churches, schools, and groups to participate in the construction of the home from start to finish." The goals of the project are to 1) honor the Pope, 2) provide an opportunity for volunteers to work together to build the home, and 3) to support the Habitat mission of providing affordable housing. The buyer for this home has already been identified, and you can see her story here.
We're generally pretty tough on affordable housing development, lamenting the cost of construction and the fact that it often doesn't help people who are truly in need. Habitat For Humanity probably does it better than anybody, and we wish their model could be followed by others. Also, we're particularly pleased to see this kind of development happening in this neighborhood instead of yet another student housing development. There's still so many vacant lots nearby, we wonder whether Habitat might have any similar projects on the horizon for this area.