President Englert joins local officials, politicians for affordable housing groundbreaking
Temple University is the educational partner on a $30 million federal Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant supporting redevelopment and revitalization in the Norris Homes adjacent to Main Campus.
Temple University President Richard M. Englert joined with local leaders Sept. 10 to mark a significant milestone in the redevelopment of the Norris Homes, a Philadelphia Housing Authority development adjacent to Main Campus.
Alongside politicians including Congressman Dwight Evans, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell and Philadelphia Housing Authority President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah, Englert helped break ground on phase three of the Norris Apartments Choice Neighborhoods Development project. The ongoing five-year project supported by a $30 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant aims to revitalize the Norris community.
Temple’s College of Education is the educational lead on the HUD project, which seeks to improve education and housing opportunities for residents in urban communities. In 2015, faculty and staff from the college partnered with Donna Richardson, president of the Norris Community Resident Council Inc., and other residents to develop and enhance community-led after-school and summer camp programs for neighborhood children.
“They started with an idea. They started with passion. They started with compassion,” Englert said of Richardson and her fellow residents, who ran the program on a volunteer basis until joining forces with the College of Education. “Donna Richardson’s leadership helped to inspire a novel idea—a program that is community-based and community-led. That means everything to me.”
Richardson has said that the after-school and summer camp programs have continued to keep neighbors and children connected during the redevelopment phases of the Choice Neighborhoods project, through which the Philadelphia Housing Authority is razing the old Norris Homes, which were built in the 1950s, to replace them with new, state-of-the-art affordable housing units.
“The decision by HUD to award this grant was a recognition of the work done by this community,” Casey said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “This is about tomorrow.”
When all five planned phases of construction are completed, 267 new rental units and 30 homeownership units will be available in the Norris Homes. In phase three, 50 new units will be constructed on what is now a vacant lot along 11th Street between Norris and Diamond streets. Norris Homes residents have been temporarily relocated by the housing authority during construction and will receive first consideration when it comes time to move back in.
Temple will continue to provide support to the community-led Norris programs as the grant project continues.
“This is a partnership in which Temple University is all-in,” Englert said.