(Sep 26, 16, 7:29 AM) Philadelphia – The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) and HELP USA held a groundbreaking ceremony today to unveil plans to convert the former Spring Garden School in North Philadelphia into 37 units of affordable housing for seniors and veterans. The announcement marked a significant chapter for the historic building, which has been vacant for four decades.

HELP USA has entered into a 99-year ground lease with the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) at the former Spring Garden School located in North Philadelphia. HELP USA’s fifth site in Philadelphia, the building is being renovated into 37 apartments for low-income seniors with a preference for veterans. Twelve of the housing units will be occupied by homeless veterans. PHA is investing $9.5 million over the next 20 years and HELP has secured $13.7 million in public and private funding to make the project possible.

“HELP USA has been working in Philadelphia for almost 20 years. This will give us about $56 million in capital investment for low-income housing and special needs housing in the city of Philadelphia,” said Tom Hameline, President and CEO, HELP USA. “With the help of folks here, we can do a lot more work and will be very proud to do so.”

“I am proud that HELP USA and our partners are able to turn an eyesore into an opportunity to help veterans and low-income families,” said David Cleghorn, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Development at HELP. “The redevelopment of the Spring Garden School, a classic-looking Philadelphia landmark, is the result of a true collaborative effort to preserve affordable housing in this rapidly developing neighborhood.”

“We can show gratitude to our veterans by making sure they have access to quality, affordable housing as they age,” said Darrell Clarke, President, Philadelphia City Council. “I am so excited to welcome new supportive housing for veterans and seniors into my district. By providing veterans with the support and benefits they have earned through their service, we can show our gratitude for all they have done to protect our democracy. I look forward to a year from now when we cut the ribbon and welcome our seniors who have served to their new apartments.”

“In a time of shrinking resources, it is necessary for PHA to partner with like-minded organizations to fulfill the need of affordable housing.  I want to commend HELP USA for its commitment to housing the country’s most vulnerable,” said Kelvin A. Jeremiah, President & CEO of PHA. “The rehabilitation of this building, which has stood vacant for years, will mark the end of the last derelict structure in the Richard Allen community. We are extremely gratified to be able to help bring this vision to reality.”

“I want to build a lot more of these facilities. This is what we’re supposed to be doing in this business. We have men and women who made a lot of sacrifices for us, and these veterans have to come home to something; they deserve a place to stay when they return home. We need to let them know that we care for them and that we have to provide them with a place to live with dignity,” said Congressman Robert Brady (1st District of Pennsylvania).

The PHA-owned property has been vacant since the 1970s. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.  The $14.5 million capital project is being financed by Historic and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, philanthropic dollars, debt, and HELP USA funds. Work began at the site on August 1 and is expected to conclude by mid-2017, with individuals and families moving in later that year.

Situated between the full-service Drexel Community Health Center and PHA’s John F. Street Community Center, the building will feature a rooftop garden and playground, as well as on-site services provided by HELP USA. Services will include healthcare, counseling, employment, and youth services delivered by Drexel University and other community partners.

About HELP USA

HELP USA is one of the nation’s largest homeless service providers and low-income housing developers serving at-risk populations including families, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. HELP USA currently serves more than 8,000 people every day at over 50 programs and residences across five states. Founded in 1986, HELP USA has served more than 375,000 men, women, and children and provides over 3,500 units of permanent and transitional housing as part of its 30-year history of developing innovative solutions to provide safe, stable homes.

Media Contacts:
Nick Bohlen                                                                                        Nichole Tillman

HELP USA                                                                                           Philadelphia Housing Authority
Director of Communications & Marketing                                   EVP- Communications
nbohlen@helpusa.org or (212) 400-7003                                     nichole.tillman@pha.phila.gov

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