Demand for an affordable apartment is huge as the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) works to complete a modest 12-unit development.
When PHA recently closed the two-day application period, more than 400 people had applied for a chance to live in one of the units at the Oakdale Street Apartments.
Prospective residents began lining up outside as early as 1 a.m. on March 17, the first day for applications. Some camped out in lawn chairs.
“The response to PHA opening the waitlist for Oakdale Street Apartments was humbling,” said Kelvin A. Jeremiah, PHA president and CEO. “This sign-up event further demonstrates the tremendous demand for quality, affordable housing in Philadelphia. The number of applicants is also a solemn reminder that PHA is unable to fulfill this great need alone.”
Some of the people applying for an apartment were already wait-listed for other PHA sites, according to the agency, which has more than 100,000 applicants for various housing programs.
One person in line reported being on a PHA waiting list for nine years. Another woman said she has been waiting for six years.
PHA is building the development on vacant land in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. Scheduled to be completed in June, the project is across the street from the Widener Library.
Unfortunately, this kind of demand for affordable housing isn't unusual. In New York City, more than 70,000 applications poured in from families hoping to land one of 38 units at the Frost Street Apartments under construction in Brooklyn.
Oakdale Street will feature eight two-bedroom townhouses and four one- bedroom duplex units ranging from just over 700 to more than 1,200 square feet. The units are designed with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind. They include Energy Star-rated appliances and mechanical equipment, and compact fluorescent bulbs throughout. All buildings will feature conventional construction with a combination of brick and hard board panel systems on the exterior, with grass field rear yards.
The total investment in the new project is about $4.55 million.
The new PHA project, along with two others in Strawberry Mansion, is something long sought by City Council President Darrell Clarke, whose district covers the neighborhood. He has actively promoted an increase in various forms of affordable housing throughout the City.