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Orinoka Civic House receives more than 600 applications for 51 affordable rentals

There will be a lottery for interviews

A rendering of a converted warehouse.
The Orinoka Civic House received 600-plus applications for its 51 affordable rental units.
Rendering by Jibe Design

A new affordable housing development in Kensington has received more than 600 applications for 51 available units, New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) announced yesterday.

That’s almost 12 applications per available apartment at the Orinoka Civic House, a telling sign of the state of affordable housing availability in Philly, said Sandy Salzman, NKCDC’s executive director.

“We are so proud to be able to provide 51 new units of safe, affordable rental housing,” Salzman said in a statement. “At the same time, the staggering response is a sad reminder of the gap between the real need for housing in this city and the ability of organizations like ours to meet that need.”

The city lost 20 percent of low-cost rental units between 2000 and 2014, according to a recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. And the affordable housing restrictions that remain are set to expire within the next five years.

The NKCDC and the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations made the announcement ahead of Mayor Jim Kenney’s budget address yesterday, urging him to double the budget of the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund (HTF). In 2017, the HTF was budgeted for $23.5 million. Kenney’s proposed 2018 budget increased the HTF funding slightly to $27.5 million.

The Orinoka Civic House at 2771-2777 Ruth Street was a former abandoned warehouse, originally home to Orinoka Mills. When the $17.8 million adaptive reuse project opens this June, the Orinoka Civic House will feature 1- and 2-bedroom apartments for low- to moderate-income earners, the new headquarters for NKCDC, and 7,200 square feet of commercial and retail space.

Given the overwhelming number of interested renters, the NKCDC will host a lottery today, Friday, March 3, to determine which applicants will receive the first interviews for the apartments. The lottery draw is at 2 p.m. at Coral Street Arts House (2446-68 Coral Street).