Construction is underway at two sites in South and West Philly to bring more than 100 senior affordable housing units to the neighborhoods.
Within two weeks, the non-profit organization Presby’s Inspired Life broke ground this month on two low-income housing developments: A 61-unit project at 5th and Cantrell streets in South Philly and a 60-unit project at Presby’s 58th Street Campus in West Philly.
The first development Cantrell Place broke ground at 5th and Cantrell two weeks ago, although it has been in the works since 2011. The two-building project will transform 33 vacant lots around the neighborhood (which happens to be a block away from where Mayor Jim Kenney grew up) into affordable housing for seniors aged 62 and older. Construction is expected to finish up in August 2018.
The second project, which broke ground on Wednesday morning, is an adaptive reuse project that will convert an old nursing home, vacant since 2010, on Presby’s campus into 60 units for seniors. Some of the housing will be reserved for homeless seniors and those with sensory or mobility impairments. (Research shows that just 1 percent of the nation’s current housing stock offers what seniors need to safely age in place.)
The new housing will be the fourth development to join Presby’s 58th Street Campus in Kingsessing. When it finishes construction in September 2018, it will only partially appease the demand for senior affordable housing at the campus—there’s currently a 500-person waiting list.
The groundbreakings come at a time when Philly continues to struggle with its affordable housing availability, a growing senior population, and a high poverty rate. Last year, 176,645 Philadelphians (11 percent of the population) aged 55 or older were living below the poverty line, according to most recent U.S. Census data.