We received the award of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency we had been waiting for. Added to earlier funding awards from the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Housing Authority, we now have in place the funding for “Old First House.”
We are moving towards construction beginning in September of this year, and we are looking forward to the building being completed by the end of 2023. To echo a sentiment around Old First, “we are now going to do better than 30 men sleeping on the floor for over 30 years!”
Old First House will be a new mixed-use building along the 4th Street side of the church’s property at 4th & Race. It will include ground floor commercial space on the corner. There will be office and program space for the church farther south along 4th Street. But the majority of the new building will be dedicated to permanent, supportive housing – 34 efficiency apartments – for women and men who have been chronically homeless.
Old First is partnering with Community Ventures, a non-profit real estate developer, and DePaul USA. a non-profit supportive services provider, to develop and manage the building.
We are currently refining the building design so our project can move through the remaining public approvals and financing underwriting. We are planning a building that will fit into the built environment of Old City (and be beautiful) and will meet the high energy efficiency and sustainability standards of Passive House.
We know a project of this size and complexity will inevitably cause disruptions and inconvenience for our neighbors. Already in our planning, we are doing everything we can to make our construction as easy as possible on the neighborhood. If you have any concerns before we begin construction or complaints once we get started, we have set up a direct email address: Building@oldfirstucc.org . We mean to be a good neighbor in all this.
Please keep watching for more news on Old First House; we will post updates on the church’s website www.oldfirstucc.org as they become available.
If you are really interested, you might contact one of us to get involved. We need support for the remaining public approvals and reviews. We would like to hear your ideas on commercial space tenants. There are always opportunities to get involved or make financial contributions to Old First, Depaul USA or Community Ventures…
Finally, this season will be Old First’s last time hosting the Winter Shelter with the Bethesda Project. Emergency housing for 30 men while half our property is a construction site is too much. But we are already planning new ways to help some of the city’s most needy. Sooner rather than later, there will also be volunteer opportunities with the residents of Old First House. If you want to get involved in our social outreach work, please contact the church office or speak with the Pastor.
Pastor Michael Caine, Old First Reformed UCC
David La Fontaine, Executive Director, Community Ventures