Housing supply

Penn Announces Actions to Address Local Affordable Housing Supply in Sale of UC Townhomes

Craig Carnaroli, Penn’s senior executive vice president, wrote an op-ed in response to protests over the sale of UC Townhomes.

Credit: Oscar Vasquez

Penn broke his silence on the sale of University City Townhomes after months of protests, announcing a series of actions to address the broader lack of affordable housing in Philadelphia.

In a Sept. 29 op-ed published in The Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn Senior Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli wrote that Penn did not own the UC Townhomes property and had “no influence” over its redevelopment. He also announced, however, that Penn will take action to address the supply of affordable housing in Philadelphia, describing the UC Townhomes as “emblematic of a long and tangled history” of city, state, and inaction. and the federal government.

Penn will partner with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, a local community revitalization organization, to provide four-year funding to help approximately 75 low-income homeowners in West Philadelphia. In addition, administrators asked professors at the Penn Institute for Urban Research to produce an “in-depth study” with “workable strategies” on how the University can support increased affordable housing and determine the “best practices” for partnerships between the University and the West Philadelphia community.

Carnaroli wrote that the current scarcity of low-cost housing in Philadelphia “calls for innovative partnerships” between local, state, and federal government in addition to stakeholders such as Penn and nearby anchor institutions.

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is an organization that brings together volunteers, community partners and communities to repair owner-occupied homes in vulnerable neighborhoods so that they are safe, healthy and energy efficient.

Among its programs, the organization annually repairs more than 75 homes in a neighborhood through “Block Build” events, repairs homes for homeowners aged 55 or older free of charge in economically important “middle neighborhoods,” repairs homes to eliminate factors that can trigger asthma and match students with opportunities to repair homes for the elderly and develop their technical and soft skills.

At the same time, Penn also enlists faculty who specialize in affordable housing and community development to contribute their knowledge and insights.

Carnaroli added that the University wishes to engage with its neighbors and community partners to address the current crisis in order to fulfill its responsibilities as a “world-class university and local anchor institution” and that the administration is “open and engaged in productive dialogue on these important and complex issues.

In answer to Carnaroli’s op-ed, Save the UC Townhomes criticized his statements, citing a Philadelphia Business Journal article in which Carnaroli said Penn was seeking to “densify” University City to propel life sciences development.

The organization also wrote that while Penn’s new deal will provide funding for approximately 75 homeowners, the UC Townhomes consist of 70 units that are currently being moved, implying that Penn should directly support the UC Townhomes.

“[T]hey won’t meet a second time with Save the UC Townhomes,” the band wrote on Twitter. “Penn administrator [is] taking no responsibility for his story of displacement from the Black Bottom and low-income West Philly – portraying Save the UC Townhomes and sympathetic students as misinformed.

Carnaroli’s editorial and Save the UC Townhomes’ response come at the forefront of a months-long dispute over the impending sale of UC Townhomes.

“Some residents, as well as some Penn faculty, students and staff, are disappointed with these events and have demonstrated this through numerous protests to raise awareness of the plight of people living in townhouses,” Carnaroli wrote. . “And on a few occasions those protests have been directed against the University. As a bordering neighbor of the Townhomes, we share those sentiments.”