University City Townhomes residents get extension to find new affordable housing

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Residents of University City Townhomes now have until the end of the year to find new social housing, according to a spokesperson for the landlord.

Federal affordable housing subsidies for tenants were set to expire Oct. 8, but the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreed to an extension until Dec. 27, said Kevin Feeley, spokesman for IBID Associates. Residents were notified late last week, he said.

“For a lot of residents, the new contract expiration date of December 27 was like a sigh of relief,” Rasheda Alexander, a UC Townhomes resident and organizer of 14 years, told Billy Penn. “I feel like it should have lasted until next year. Because a lot of people still haven’t found accommodation.

This newest expansion is the latest development surrounding the University City Townhomes, an affordable housing complex housing 69 predominantly Black and Hispanic families. Located at 39th and Market Streets, the townhouse neighborhood was once called Black Bottom, a historically black community that gradually gentrified with the development of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

Last year, IBID announced its plan to sell and redevelop the property, ending its federal affordable housing contract which was originally set to expire last July.

Residents, some of whom have lived in the complex for decades, weren’t happy to hear about the plans.

Since then, they have organized, forming the Save the UC Townhomes Coalition. This summer, they set up camp on the resort’s lawn in protest. Earlier this month, the coalition of residents and supporters gathered at City Hall, presenting a list of demands. They asked IBID to extend its federal contract for another two years and sell the property to a third party who intends to keep the complex as affordable housing.

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Councilman Jamie Gauthier attempted to intervene and prohibit the demolition on the property. IBID then sued Gauthier and the city’s federal court. The lawsuit has not yet been resolved.

The federal contract has been extended several times, first from July to September 7 to allow more time for housing vouchers to arrive for displaced tenants. Then it was pushed back to October 8 and now, to the end of the year.

Under the contract, HUD pays the difference between the housing rent and 30% of the resident household income.

IBID does not intend to evict the residents when the contract expires, Feeley said, but they will no longer receive these grants unless they move to another affordable housing complex.

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“We never said we were going to kick anybody out,” Feeley said. “The resettlement process is working and our intention is to give people a reasonable amount of time to complete it.”

Feeley said “at least half” of the residents either moved out or received their vouchers in anticipation of the move, with most of the rest filling out their paperwork to get the vouchers. Alexander, the resident and tenant representative, told WHYY that 58 families do not know where they are moving.

The Save the UC Townhomes Coalition did not return a request for comment on Monday.

IBID’s ultimate goal remains to sell and redevelop, Feeley said, but there is no set deadline for when it plans to do so.

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