What Are the Housing Problems Philly Is Facing?

What Are the Housing Problems Philly Is Facing?

Over and over in the organizing work POWER is doing in Philadelphia, no matter what the campaign – jobs and living wage; schools and education funding; policing and prisons; even climate justice, the initiatives keep bumping into recurrent themes: Housing.

For example, in the Save Chinatown work that Old Firsters have been involved in, there are issues like:

1) how Market East can absorb the traffic of big events, as well as

2) whether the “quiet days” at the proposed arena would really generate the uplift that that stretch of Market needs.

But the reason POWER got involved in that fight was the invitation of the Chinatown community. The people of that neighborhood see the primary issue as a “land grab.” That the developers who own the 76ers are interested in the long game. They may want their own arena because it will add to the financial value of their team. But why they want to build on Market between 10th and 11th is because their longer term interest is the Center City real estate that would become available for development if Chinatown were not sitting on it. (They already have the Hahnemann Hospital parcel – in a cynical move that shut down the primary health care provider for the city’s most humble patients in order to free up the land sitting underneath it.)

The organizing in West and Southwest Philly and in North Philly all, the people and congregations in those neighborhoods, likewise, keep bumping into questions of affordable housing.

There’s construction all over town, but is it delivering what the city really needs? Whole neighborhoods feel like they are being transformed overnight. The shadow side of all this housing investment is that rents and home prices are climbing too. Neighborhoods are becoming unaffordable for those who have lived in them for years, All this dislocation is to the detriment of families and congregations. Where can our working and poor neighbors find safe, affordable housing?

POWER Philly has officially launched “Pathway to Power: Building Philly’s Future Together” – a 6-8 month long campaign of base-building wherein, through a series of house meetings and congregational meetings, we will speak up-close-and-personal with thousands of Philadelphians about real pains and problems related to housing that are being felt throughout the city.

Andy, Barbara, Clark, Kathleen, Michael and Toni went to the first training for the campaign at Mishkan Shalom in Roxborough a couple of weeks ago. Annaka, Beth and Noah hope to go to the next meeting. (You can too if you want to be involved.) And from those leaders and the meetings they will organize, we’re hoping to reach as many as 100 Philadelphians to ask about their experience of the housing situation in our city. 

Michael is hoping that Andy, Barbara and he can all host house meetings in the next few weeks:
-Andy could include men from our Saturday morning breakfast or Sunday Supper ministries.
-Barbara wants to gather the women of color she works with in other activist organizations such as Women Strike Force.
-Michael is hoping to have a meeting with his neighbors on the block in the Philadelphia Housing Authority buildings.

We also need to organize a house meeting for people at Old First. Since we live all over, we will either do it one Sunday after worship or some evening on zoom.

By the end of 2024, POWER Interfaith will hold a citywide leadership assembly where the people will determine the direction of our organizing work based on what was heard and felt at meetings that have happened across the city.

Our team is excited about engaging communities, amplifying voices, and shaping a brighter future for ALL of Philadelphia, as we often say in organizing, especially for those who are feeling the pain the most!

Over the next several months, we’ll keep you updated on our progress, share behind-the-scenes insights, and provide opportunities for you to get involved.
Stay tuned for our upcoming events, discussions, and ways to make a difference.

Together, we can create positive change and build a stronger, more equitable city for all.