Pathways Housing Wellness Corporation launches in Philadelphia
As a well-respected agency known for thinking outside the box when creating programming that ends people's homelessness, Pathways is well positioned to develop safe, affordable housing that is healthy and sustainable. We know that when treated with respect and dignity, people thrive. We believe that investing up front in providing an elevated standard of supportive housing will create happy, healthy neighbors.
Pathways to Housing PA founded PHWC to develop affordable and supportive housing units in Philadelphia. As a nonprofit developer, we are not beholden to the same revenue goals of a for-profit developer. We can, and will, provide housing that is truly affordable to very low-income individuals in our community – including those who are difficult to house because of behavioral health issues. We already work with and understand the needs of people who experience homelessness, and we know what tenants need to thrive.
PHWC, will build units that are truly affordable to those most in need in our city. Affordable means that no more than 30% of income is spent on housing costs; this is calculated by determining the area median income (AMI) for a neighborhood, and renting at 30% or less of the AMI. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, 40% of Philadelphia households spent at least 30% of their income on housing costs in 2018, meaning they met the federal standard of being cost-burdened.
That translates to four out of every ten Philadelphians living in housing that is not considered affordable. That’s a significant number, especially when coupled with the poverty rate in Philadelphia, which has been hovering around 25% for years.
To add to that, 69% percent of cost-burdened Philadelphia households have incomes below $30,000 per year. Affordable housing is significantly more difficult to find for low-income families, especially those who are not white: 50% of Hispanic households and 46% of Black households are cost-burdened, compared with 32% of white households.
Disparities are also apparent between owners and renters: 54% of renters are cost-burdened, compared with 28% of homeowners. That number will likely continue to rise, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports From January 2021 to January 2022, rent prices increased by 11% in the Philadelphia metro area.
While there are housing support services in Philadelphia, those programs are understandably overwhelmed. Philadelphia’s waiting list for housing vouchers is so long that it was closed to new names for twelve years; of the 10,000 new applicants that will be accepted, 2,000 will receive vouchers immediately and the remaining 8,000 will wait 3-5 years.
In addition, the City of Philadelphia estimates that there are 14,500 affordable housing units with contracts expiring in the next two years; once those contracts expire, owners can opt-out of providing affordable housing and rent those units at market-rate, effectively evicting the families living there. This is why more non-profits like PHWC need to become housing developers; our units will always be affordable.
As a nonprofit developer, we work with and understand the needs of those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. As an agency that master leases hundreds of apartment units throughout Philadelphia, we know what tenants need to thrive.
PHWC is currently working on a 20-lot project on North 17th Street, which will transform from empty lots and abandoned buildings to moderate sized, multi-family units that fit the landscape of the neighborhood. The 70+ affordable units will provide adequate lighting, energy-efficient appliances, wireless internet, and other amenities to benefit low-income members of the community.
We cannot solve the entirety of Philadelphia's housing crisis, but we can build units that are affordable to those most in need in our community. PHWC is open to collaborations and partnerships to make our mission come to life, and would welcome conversations regarding our work.
About Pathways Housing Wellness Corporation
Pathways Housing Wellness Corporation (PHWC) is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing units in Philadelphia. PHWC works with and understands the needs of those at risk of or experiencing homelessness by building units that are affordable to those most in need in our community. Visit www.PathwaysHWC.org for more information.
About Pathways to Housing PA
Since 2008, Pathways to Housing PA has provided housing and comprehensive wrap-around services following the evidence-based Housing First model in Philadelphia to help end chronic homelessness. Pathways currently houses more than 550 individuals in regular apartments across the community, with an unprecedented 85% housing retention rate. These same participants would be considered not housing ready in other programs. Visit www.PathwaysToHousingPA.org for more information.
Valerie Johnson, VP of Advancement and Special Projects