The Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment this week voted to approve plans for the Mamie Nichols Townhomes, a project that will deliver 33 new affordable apartments and townhomes to the quickly gentrifying Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia.

The project is led by the Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) and Citizens Acting Together Can Help (CATCH).

Nora Lichtash, executive director at WCRP, which develops homes for low-income families, cited a tremendous need for more affordable housing in Point Breeze.

The area, which lies in close proximity to Center City, has seen a spike in development and home-price increases. The 19146 zip code that includes Grays Ferry, Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze experienced the most home sales in the city in the second quarter of 2017.

“We have data that shows this is a neighborhood that is really increasing in value,” Lichtash said. “It’s just so clear to people in Point Breeze that changes are happening, but we need to make sure that folks who have worked so hard to keep the neighborhood strong don’t get pushed out.”

She said developers plan to build more than 180 market-rate homes within a four-block radius of the Mamie Nichols project site.

The development, which is named after Mamie Nichols, the founder and executive director of the Point Breeze Federation, will be built on lots located at 1308-1344 S. Capitol St. and 1400-1428 S. Taylor St. Once complete, the apartments and townhomes will be made available to rent for qualified low-income families, with 11 being reserved for veterans. No construction timeline has been set.

Second District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said he is eager to see the development closer to opening its doors.

“Building affordable housing is always a challenge, one that we will continue to meet head on, especially in the Point Breeze neighborhood,” Johnson said in a news release.

“I am happy to see the Mamie Nichols Townhomes project come one step closer to fruition, and I am hopeful for more smart development projects that allow for strong mixed-income communities in the future,” he said.

This week’s Zoning Board approval follows overwhelming support from the local community. South Philadelphia HOMES, Inc. (SPH) the neighborhood’s Registered Community Organization (RCO) approved the plans at its June 19 meeting. During the meeting, WCRP and CATCH presented 278 signatures from neighborhood residents who support the proposal.

“This neighborhood has experienced a lot of change over the years, and we’ve seen it firsthand,” said Raymond Pescatore, president and CEO of CATCH, a longtime community organization in Point Breeze and established provider of supportive housing and services for disabled veterans and residents with special needs.

“This project is about uniting new and old residents and making sure everyone has a place to live, including those who have served our country.”

Claudia Sherrod, executive director of SPH, said the Mamie Nichols Townhomes development will provide a much-needed housing option for low-income residents.

“I’m just delighted that we got this project on the board, and I’m looking forward to more,” she said.

Sherrod acknowledged that some longtime Point Breeze residents are being priced out of the community.

“Most people hate to leave this community,” said Sherrod, who has resided in the neighborhood for more than 50 years. “They were born and raised here but financially they cannot afford to stay here because of the rising costs with these market-rate houses coming into our community. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s not in the best interests of the poor people.” (215) 893-5747

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