The Philadelphia Housing Authority, local community leaders and government officials celebrated the completion of Phase II of the Norris Apartments redevelopment on Norris Street near 9th on Monday.
The second phase brings 89 new rental units, 26 of which will be set aside for seniors. A majority of the units will be three-bedroom residencies with washers and dryers, energy-efficient windows and open floor plans.
“Phase II gives the residents the knowledge that they will return, and that the houses were built for them,” said Donna Richardson, who is the president of the Norris Community Resident Council. She has lived in the housing development for 30 years and will continue to do so once construction is completed in November 2019.
“It cancels out all the rumors,” Richardson added.
Many residents feared they would not be able to return to the Norris Apartments redevelopment after its demolition in April. Residents were relocated in the spring to begin the five-phase project.
The public housing community was built in the 1950s and was home to 147 affordable housing units. It is bounded by 9th Street to the west, Diamond to the north, Marshall to the east and Berks to the south.
All five phases of the Norris Apartments redevelopment will create 267 rental units and 30 homeownership units.
“We worked closely with Temple and the community to make sure the needs are represented,” PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah told The Temple News. “Residents have been a key stakeholder in every aspect of the planning and development.”
In June 2014, the Norris Apartments project was the beneficiary of a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant awarded to the city and PHA by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mayor Jim Kenney participated in the ribbon-cutting and toured the development’s new units on Monday.
“Anyone would be proud to live there, and I can’t imagine a happier child that wakes up in a beautiful bedroom in the morning, can use a beautiful bathroom and eat breakfast in a wonderful kitchen,” Kenney said.
Shirley Moy, who became the executive director of Temple University’s North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative in July, told The Temple News she hopes her new office can help those in affordable housing, like the Norris Apartments, find employment opportunities.
The NPWI, funded by a Lenfest Foundation grant, will provide both community and workforce development, and internship opportunities for high school students.
“It’s also hearing from the community about what they want and then seeing how the university can respond in a partnership way,” Moy said.