PHILADELPHIA, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Efforts to revitalize North Central Philadelphia are getting a $30 million boost this week as a result of a new federal grant that is expected to attract tens of millions of dollars in additional private and philanthropic capital to the area.
The city won the highly competitive Choice Neighborhoods award as part of a collaborative effort to lift the economic prospects of an area that has endured decades of deterioration but also has a community dedicated to change.
"This is a part of Philadelphia where residents are committed to renewing their community," said Andrew Frishkoff, executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in Philadelphia, which has been investing in North Philadelphia for more than 25 years. "Choice Neighborhoods is a transformational initiative that can scale up their efforts."
The Choice effort is led by Philadelphia's Office of Housing and Community Development, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, local nonprofit Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and Temple University. LISC will help implement a number of Choice programs, including affordable housing, health care, business improvement, community safety, family financial stability, and jobs.
"We've been working with the city and APM to lay the groundwork here for many years," Frishkoff said. He pointed to developments like Paseo Verde—a catalytic new APM development at 9th and Berks funded in part through federal Low Income Housing and New Markets Tax Credits –as helping improve opportunities for residents. "We're taking a comprehensive approach that is changing the quality of life for families all across this community," Frishkoff said.
But challenges persist, he said. Poverty remains high at nearly 65 percent, and vacant homes and businesses still dot the landscape. "There is a lot of work yet to be done," Frishkoff explained. "The Choice grant will concentrate resources and expertise to have a dramatic impact on the way people live and work long into the future."
Choice Neighborhoods is a federal program managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is designed to help revitalize long-troubled communities, based on plans developed at the local level. It includes planning grants, now underway in dozens of communities across the country, as well as nine major implementation grants like the one in North Philadelphia. In the years since its launch in 2011, it has brought millions of dollars of investment capital to economically troubled areas.
In Chicago, for instance, LISC is supporting the $30.5 million Choice grant in the South Side Woodlawn neighborhood with funding for new affordable housing development and a program aimed at improving the financial stability of residents. Known locally as a Center for Working Families, the program helps low-income residents with employment, credit scores, budgeting, savings and more.
And in Cincinnati's Avondale community, LISC is working on multiple phases of the city's $29.5 million Choice grant, including plans for hundreds of units of new housing, significant economic development and jobs.
"We're seeing a remarkable level of community engagement around this work," said Kathy Schwab, LISC's executive director in Cincinnati. "People are rallying around this Choice grant and the plans and projects it includes. They see the opportunity—these investments will make this community safer and stronger. It's an exciting time."
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised $13.8 billion to build or rehab 310,000 affordable homes and develop 46 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. Toward that end, the Treasury Department has awarded LISC $840 million in New Markets Tax Credit investment authority, one of the largest allocations in the country. All told, LISC support has leveraged nearly $51 billion in total development activity. For more information, visit www.lisc.org.
Andrew Frishkoff, LISC
215-923-3801 ext. 11 or firstname.lastname@example.org
David Ferris, LISC
215-923-3801 ext. 2711 or email@example.com