Wednesday, November 14, 2018

ULI & Southwest CDC Get Grant for Grays Ferry Jumpstart Program

by Steve Lubetkin
Urban Land Institute Philadelphia and the Southwest Community Development Corporation received an implementation grant from the Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Initiative to support further expansion of the Jumpstart program in the Grays Ferry neighborhood.

The implementation grant builds on the work of a Grays Ferry Healthy Corridor Study completed in December 2017 and a 2018 grant from LISC Philadelphia that broadened the Jumpstart program from Germantown to include Southwest Philadelphia.
The Urban Land Institute’s National Health Corridor Project works with communities to develop and implement healthy corridor strategies to advance a new, healthier vision for urban and suburban corridors.

In 2017, Grays Ferry Avenue (from Washington Avenue to Woodland Avenue and including the Grays Ferry Bridge) was selected as a “Demonstration Corridor” by the ULI national organization and ULI Philadelphia received funding to host a study of the corridor and surrounding neighborhoods.

The project brought together a group of local stakeholders and a panel of national experts, who, after completing an intensive three-day research and stakeholder interview process, presented their recommendations for including health within future planning processes for the Grays Ferry corridor.
A key recommendation of the 2017 study was the creation of a housing assistance program offering training and access to capital for novice developers. In January of 2018, LISC Philadelphia awarded SWCDC a $5,000 grant to expand the Jumpstart program to Southwest Philadelphia.

Jumpstart, a new model for community development originating in Germantown, provides training, mentoring, networking, and financing options for aspiring local developers.

“Chairing the Grays Ferry Corridor initiative through ULI was a meaningful project in bringing together stakeholders and connecting two communities through the lens of health,” says Julie Donofrio, managing director of PennPraxis and ULI Chair for the Healthy Corridor Project. “The ULI study incited many great ideas, forged new partnerships, and created momentum for smart and inclusive planning in Grays Ferry and Southwest. It’s wonderful that ULI is continuing to show support for these recommendations and partners through this investment.”

Jumpstart program participants, referred to as Mentees, include Southwest community residents who are interested in learning about residential real estate development and are dedicated to making a positive difference in their community. Whether they are interested in renovating a house they want to move into or starting a career as a real estate developer, the program aims to connect Mentees to the training and financing they need to complete their projects.

“SWCDC is grateful to Urban Land Institute for supporting our Jumpstart Southwest program and we are excited to be able to continue to offer this program over the next year,” says Steve Kuzmicki, economic development program manager at SWCDC.  “We have learned that there is incredible demand for this kind of training in the community, and we look forward to reaching out to and working with the residents in the Gray’s Ferry Healthy Corridor target area”.

The overall objectives of Jumpstart are:

  • Create opportunities for residents to invest in and develop neighborhood residential development projects.
  • Build wealth locally.
  • Support scattered-site rehabilitation (as opposed to urban renewal).
  • Encourage a healthy mix of affordable and market-rate housing that lessens neighborhood gentrification.
  • Improve neighborhood safety and raise property values through blight reduction.
  • Help first-time investors become more attractive to traditional lenders.

The additional Healthy Corridors Implementation Grant will allow Southwest CDC to continue implementing this program. As part of their community efforts, Southwest CDC will make a concerted effort to reach out and recruit participants specifically from within the Grays Ferry study area.

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