HUD-funded housing project near Temple chugs along

Construction of new apartments near Temple’s regional rail station will finish by 2020 or 2021.

Building rubble lies on the construction site of the Norris Apartments project at Berks and 10th streets on Sept. 25. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Philadelphia Housing Authority is finalizing construction on Phase III of the Norris Apartments project, which consists of 50 residential units near the intersection of 11th and Norris streets, said Donna Richardson, president of the Norris Community Resident Council. 

The homes will open in November or December with residents moving in early 2020, Richardson said.

In addition, the agency is preparing to break ground on Phase IV of the project, which will add approximately 120 residential units, Richardson said. Construction on Phase IV is expected to be completed by 2020 or 2021.

The project is partially funded by a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

PHA began demolition of the existing Norris Homes in 2018. In total, the five phases of development will replace the original 147 houses with 297.

PHA could not immediately be reached for comment.

Richardson estimates that 80 percent of former residents will return to the apartments, she said. 

“When they wanted to tear down the old Norris Homes and bring up the new ones, the concern was making sure that everybody had a right to return,” Richardson said. “That was done, but we still see the need for housing for so many people.”

 The new apartments are considered mixed-income, with some set to be subsidized and others set at a market rate, Richardson said. 

“It takes away that model of project homes,” she added.

 The $125-million project is funded through the HUD grant, private funds, tax credits and additional funds from the PHA.

Norris Apartments offers childcare for those who work as well as stipends for job seekers, Richardson said. The PHA also installed more lights in the area around the homes.

Natasha Hinnant, who lives in Norris Apartments on Norris Street near 8th Street, said her home is nice and spacious. 

“I love it,” said Hinnant, who moved in December after five years on the city’s waiting list for public housing. “It’s comfortable.”

Algina Johnson, who lives on Norris Street near Darien Street, moved in her Norris Apartments home in December.

“I love the homes,” Johnson said. “I love the new location. I like the neighbors.”

In collaboration with the College of Education, Norris Apartments also operates community-led after-school and summer programs, staffed by Norris residents, as well as professional development workshops. 

The after-school program started with 15 children and now has 45, Richardson said. The summer program started with 50 children and now has 65. 

Sarah Thomas, who lives on Franklin Street near Diamond Street, said she has way more space than in her previous home.

“I like it. I love my house. That’s it,” Thomas said.

CORRECTION: A previous cutline for the featured image was incorrectly credited. The photo was taken by Colleen Claggett.

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