WASHINGTON, March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This Saturday, Congressman Chaka Fattah will join leaders from the Philadelphia community to witness the demolition of the Norman Blumberg Apartments and celebrate the redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood. It was announced by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) in 2015 that the high-rise, former public housing project would be demolished concurrent with a comprehensive plan that the blocks surrounding the existing high-rises would be targeted for extensive development. Fattah has been an advocate for affordable housing reform since the 1980s when he first called on the City of Philadelphia to tear down the high-rise public housing projects and move residents to safer low-rise or single family homes.
"To witness the Blumberg Apartment implosion this weekend is a victory for public housing, for Philadelphia, and most especially for the residents of the Sharswood neighborhood," Congressman Fattah said. "Twenty-five years after I called for the removal of all public housing high-rises in our community, we watch as the demolition of this complex will make way for a revitalized Sharswood, and a brighter future for the entire community."
Saturday's Blumberg demolition is only the latest in a series of implosions of Philadelphia's former high-rise housing projects. Other complexes that have been imploded since the plan was put into place include the Queen Lane Apartments, Schuylkill Falls, and the Mill Creek high-rises.
While initially met with resistance, Fattah's housing plan proved ahead of its time and eventually led to a near complete overhaul of public housing developments in Philadelphia. In 1990, Daily News columnist Russell Byers speculated that the "radical" Fattah proposal—if successful—"would do more than just help shape the lives of people who live in these hellholes. Virtually every city neighborhood - especially those plagued with high numbers of vacant houses - would be reshaped."
The project was launched between 1991-1992, after Fattah and then Mayor Ed Rendell proposed their idea to HUD Secretary Jack Kemp. The dual goals were to move residents to improved housing options and fix up the neighborhoods surrounding the high-rise apartments.
Over the last twenty years, PHA, together with federal funding secured by Congressman Fattah, has worked to successfully transform the public housing options throughout Philadelphia, overwhelmingly moving tenants from high-rise buildings to low-rise, lower density developments that prove safer and healthier for residents and families. Community leaders have credited the housing overhaul with having an enormous economic impact and for revitalizing the real estate market throughout the city.
Fattah has continued to advocate for public housing reforms in Congress, and throughout his 21-year career in the House has secured federal funding for thousands of units of new, sustainable, and affordable public housing in neighborhoods throughout the city. Fattah has also been instrumental in providing billions of dollars to cities under HUD's HOPE VI program to improve public housing infrastructure nationwide.
Congressman Fattah has helped secure funding and tax credit financing for the redevelopment of the Blumberg Apartments. In 2014, he announced that the development would receive $1.19 million in tax credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). He was also instrumental in securing a HUD Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in 2013 that helped launch the Sharswood neighborhood revitalization efforts. More recently he announced HUD funding to support the Blumberg Apartment residents who were displaced by the buildings' demolishment.
WHO: Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Kelvin Jeremiah, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority
Community leaders and residents
WHAT: Implosion of Norman Blumberg Apartments and Sharswood/Blumberg Neighborhood Transformation Plan
WHEN: 6:30-7:45AM, Saturday, March 19, 2016
WHERE: Corner of 23rd and Master Street, Philadelphia, PA
SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah