Could Vacant Schools Help Meet Philly's Affordable Housing Needs?

In Philadelphia, and other cities going through demographic changes, shuttered schools provide a challenge and opportunity for redevelopment and reuse. Two board members of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) offer a creative solution.

In an op-ed for Philly.com, Mark Schwartz and John Paone contemplate what to do with some of the two dozen schools identified for closure last year, and more likely to come. 

"Under the plan recently agreed to by Mayor Nutter and City Council, some of the buildings undoubtedly will be sold to developers, charter schools, or other buyers and put to productive use," they note. "Others - especially former elementary schools in struggling neighborhoods - simply do not have the same appeal."

"What if these buildings and vacant buildings that once housed parochial schools could become safe, affordable housing for the city's growing senior population - some of them residents of those very neighborhoods - or for people with disabilities?"

What would it take to make such a plan happen? The authors suggest filling a funding gap between two federal affordable housing tax credit programs with a "contribution" tied to the approval of a new casino.

Full Story: Use vacant schools for housing for seniors, disabled

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