Introducing Pathways Housing Wellness Corporation

Christine Simiriglia

Philadelphia is a city of abandoned lots, houses that are shells of their former selves, and people experiencing homelessness. We launched Pathways Housing Wellness Corporation (PHWC) in 2021 to rebuild those lost homes into moderate sized multi-family units that fit into the landscape of the neighborhood.

PHWC will develop a small group of these buildings, producing 15 – 25 units in various sizes, in a concentrated area. Our first project is in the Sharswood neighborhood, and the affordable units we develop will be available to low-income neighbors. When this project is complete, leased up, and well running, we will look to do it again with another grouping of properties – rebuilding our communities brick by brick. 

In addition to housing, we will complete a neighborhood needs assessment and look to provide added value to our new neighbors. We believe that the only way to lift Philadelphia up is to rebuild our neighborhoods and foster community inclusion, advocacy, and positive interactions with our neighbors. 

Why housing development? 

The causes of homelessness vary, but all are related to failures in systemic and institutional structures: 

  • Philadelphia has a 25% poverty rate, one of the highest in the nation. Of that 25%, half are living in deep poverty, with incomes below 50% of the federal poverty limit.  
  • In Philadelphia, a person would have to work 106 hours per week at minimum wage to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.  
  • Pennsylvania’s SSI payment is only $750 per month, while the average fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment is over $1,000 per month. 
  • 56% of Philadelphians pay more than 30% of their income on rent, which is a reflection of low incomes and unavailable housing, rather than simply high rent costs.  
  • There are only 41 affordable housing units for every 100 extremely low-income households (those making $23,850 or less per year).  

We – all of us -- need to do better by our neighbors. We need to even out life’s playing field for many of our citizens. As a well-established and respected agency known for thinking outside the box when it comes to creating programming that ends people’s homelessness, we are in a position to develop safe, affordable, supportive housing that is sustainable. We can help rebuild and support struggling communities in our city. We want to lift up our neighborhoods, and promote community inclusion for all people within them. We are creating Pathways Housing Wellness Corporation to do just that. 

The Pathways Difference 

For-profit developers of affordable housing don’t understand the challenges faced by many of the people who need housing. And, of course, they want and need to make a profit on their projects. Philadelphia has to attract more non-profit developers who work with and understand the needs of our homeless and poorest citizens. 

Low rent housing isn’t going to solve all of our problems. There are many factors that contribute to people’s poverty, usually generational poverty, in Philadelphia. As an agency that master leases hundreds of low rent units throughout the city, we see a lot of corners cut to make rental units profitable. We can’t solve all of the issues but we can do this: 

  1. Understand that the digital divide is the new red lining and ensure that any housing we build and/or manage will make internet service accessible to all tenants. 
  1. We know that heating and cooling systems that save landlords’ money to install are much more expensive for tenants to run (i.e. electric heating units at floor level). We will use green sources to help reduce both energy use and cost so that people can put their resources toward moving forward with life goals. 
  1. We will make sure there is adequate ceiling light throughout our units. When possible, we will install ceiling fans. 
  1. Appliances included in the units will be energy efficient and of good quality. 
  1. There will be storage solutions built in so individuals and families have adequate space to store their treasured belongings. 

We know that when treated with respect and dignity, people thrive. When offered safe, affordable housing that is dignified, people tend to appreciate the upgrades and take care of the property. We believe that investing up front in providing an elevated standard of low-income and supportive housing will pay off in the long run with savings to maintenance and upkeep.  

We are grateful to have the opportunity and means to contribute to rebuilding this great City’s affordable housing stock.