Tag Archives: urban renewal

The Philadelphia Housing Authority: More Than A Home

The Philadelphia Housing Authority, a Moving to Work agency, is more than just an affordable housing provider. PHA is also the largest social service agency in the City. Over the past year, the authority has made an impact in the lives of families, seniors, at-risk individuals, veterans and persons living with disabilities. Here are some outstanding examples proving PHA is more than just a home. CommunityPartnersResidentFair-Philadelphia Housing Authority

Helping residents to reach self-sufficiency is the driving motivation behind much of PHA’s work. Through the authority’s Education Department, 679 residents have received adult basic education testing in English, Math, and Reading helping them to become eligible for one of PHAs highly demanded job training programs. The Community Partners Program provides training in customer service, culinary arts and human services in addition to entrepreneurial training, certified nursing and commercial driving training. PHA’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program offers long-term employment at the housing authority itself for residents interested in working as a maintenance mechanic, painter or other trade specialist, or laborer. In July 2014, 171 PHA residents were also PHA employees making up 12 percent of the total agency workforce. PHA hopes to see that number grow to 25 percent, and with a waiting list of more than 50 residents, it certainly seems like the agency will reach its mark.

BookbagGiveaway_LeeMazin-Philadelphia Housing AuthorityPHA does not take education lightly. That’s why, in 2013 and again in 2014, PhillySeeds Inc., a subsidiary of PHA, partnered with Staples, Citizens Bank, Santander Bank, Weichert Realty and local colleges and universities to get residents ready to head back to school. Through the partnership, PHA and local businesses distributed 7,000 book bags filled with school supplies in preparation for the new year. But before the school year even got started, the authority was busy offering healthy, safe activities, like participating in the Housing America Campaign’s annual “What Home Means to Me” poster contest, as well as breakfast and lunch to youth residents through their Summer Food Service Program, a PHA staple for more than 30 years. Thanks to the Summer Food Service Program, more than 61,000 meals were served in 2014 and an additional 43,000 meals were served in 2013 while simultaneously providing part-time employment for clients and residents.

One of the largest barriers to residents’ purchase of affordable homes in Philadelphia is obtaining the funds to cover closing costs. PhillySeeds, Inc., not only helps raise money for academic scholarship and entrepreneurial ventures, but it also fundraises grant money for low-income persons or families in the market to purchase an affordable home.

In 2014, PHA expanded rental housing opportunity for seniors, currently homeless and at-risk persons through partnerships with developers and local housing providers. PHA contributed 65 Project-Based Vouchers to various new developments in the metro region in an effort to increase access to affordable housing and eventually, self-sufficiency.

NAHRO thanks you, PHA, for your commitment and dedication to not only providing a home for those most vulnerable, but a way forward.

What Affordable Rental Housing Means to Families

By Elva Trevino

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I am an eighteen year old girl who happens to be the oldest sibling in the family. I love school, playing with my family, and talking to my mom. I, however, do have a very strong dislike for insecurity, instability, and having to say goodbye to the ones I love the most.  In all honestly, the latter I do not “strongly dislike” as much as I hate.

Life has proven to be a great roller coaster to my family ever since I was small, which may unfortunately be the same for many. My family and I have moved unceasingly, from being in the process of owning our own house to losing that opportunity, moving to another country to living in the countryside, to having to stay with relatives and friends away from parents and siblings. I have never relied on a paternal figure; my mother has been both my mother and father for most of my life. She is also the one that has been carrying the entire financial burden of the family in her shoulders. There was a time in which I lived away from her, and I hated the feeling of leaving her side to get a better life while she struggled in a daily basis to raise my youngest siblings. Six months after we reunited, we finally had a place we could call home.

I have been a resident in Public Housing for five years now. Thanks to this assistance, I have been able to make long lasting friendships, been able to excel in school, volunteer in my community, and help my family financially: things foreign before that point in my life. I would have never imagined myself in such stability back when I was in elementary. Back then all of this would have been a wonderful dream. Today I am grateful to say that this dream has finally become a reality for my family.

I have been able to show exactly “What Home Means to Me” by participating more than once in NAHRO’s poster contest under the same name. My illustrations depict what I find in my home, some things that I lacked while growing up.  “Love, security, knowledge, happiness” and, most importantly, “a place where loved ones await” are words that decorate my illustrations. I hated that time in my life where my mom was not present, where I could not play with all my siblings, which is why I longed for a place where we would safely reside, a place that I could call “home” and affordable rental housing has made that happen.

In two weeks I will be attending Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas in order to pursue a career in medicine — away from home, but now by choice. I plan to come back and become a resource to the community that has helped my family greatly. I also wish to help my family financially, help them become self-sufficient, in order to give Edinburg Housing Authority the opportunity to assist another family in need.

Elva Trevino is a two-time national winner of NAHRO’s annual ‘What Home Means to Me’ poster contest. Her artwork has been displayed on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

For more information about the ‘What Home Means to Me’ poster contest – part of the Housing America Campaign – , visit http://www.housingamericacampaign.org/