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Eastern North Philadelphia takes center stage at national crime forum as model of police-community collaboration

January 24, 2014

AG Holder, HUD Secy Donovan join local Philly leaders to detail success stories

 

PHILADELPHIA (January 17, 2014) – It may not be a silver bullet, but it’s working:  to reduce crime in Eastern North Philadelphia and other tough neighborhoods across the country, local police and community development groups are collaborating in unprecedented ways—aligning crime reduction with a revitalized “built” environment to make neighborhoods safer and lift the prospects of low-income families.

At a national symposium in New York this week called “Safe Streets, Strong Communities,” Philadelphia law enforcement and nonprofit officials joined cabinet secretaries, police chiefs, local leaders and national advocates to talk about how to expand an approach to crime that replaces dangerous “hot spots” with quality housing, active businesses, and safe spaces for families.

It’s a signature program from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), now at work in 45 cities, that focuses on building strong police-community partnerships and providing the training and funding communities need to develop projects that revive their neighborhoods.  LISC and the Police Foundation led the symposium, which was sponsored by the MetLife Foundation.

“As LISC has consistently shown us, it is imperative that we bring together federal partners, local authorities and community leaders and move forward with policies that effectively allocate limited resources to facilitate long-term success in these communities,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. He added that neglected communities must be helped “not just to succeed, but to thrive. At a basic level, we must act on the recognition that all of us are in this together.”

That’s certainly been the case in Eastern North Philadelphia, where police have been collaborating with the nonprofit Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha to shift the outlook for the long-troubled 26th District and its 12,000 mostly low-income residents.

“This had been a problem area for decades, traditionally violent and drug-infested,” said Philadelphia Police Captain Michael Cram.  Cram was tasked with improving things 10 years ago, but said he found the job near impossible because police “had no relationships in the area.”

A police-organized community fair helped officers create relationships with residents, which in turn allowed police to identify the “10 percent of the people responsible for 50 percent of the crime,” Cram said. With community help, residents were able to reassert control over the previously neglected and gang-controlled Rainbow de ColoresPark—tapping tenets of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) for the ways to successfully redevelop the park. CPTED offers best practices for how to think about real estate development from a safety perspective.  A year after the project, crime in the surrounding area dropped by nearly 50 percent.

“I would not have been as successful there if not for the men and women we have in the street who believe in this work,” Cram said. “We [police] are not the enemy anymore. Residents took ownership of their community.”

The conference featured similar stories from around the country. And the urgency around growing the impact was clear.  “It’s simply wrong that in too many neighborhoods across this country—no matter how hard a child or their parents work, the single biggest predictor of their life outcomes, even their lifespan, is where they grow up,” said U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. “Our nation has the obligation to turn communities with problems into communities with promise.”

Over time, North Philadelphia has benefited from major investments in housing, health care, commercial revitalization, community gardens and parks and education, all of which are helping make the neighborhood safer as well as healthier.

“Community development fights crime,” said Andrew Frishkoff, executive director of LISC Philadelphia, after the conference.  “These are not isolated efforts to develop buildings on one side of the equation or to arrest offenders on the other.  We think of them as part of the same whole that concentrates on making this community a better place for all our neighbors to live.”

For more on the community safety collaboration in Eastern North Philadelphia, visit http://www.sciphilly.org/sci-north.

 

People’s Emergency Center and Philadelphia LISC launch Financial Opportunity Center

January 24, 2014

PEC will provide financial coaching, employment training and placement, and public benefits access through LISC’s one-stop-shop service model.

 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – January 23, 2014 – West Philadelphia residents will have access to comprehensive career and financial services in their own neighborhood with the launch of a new Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) by the People’s Emergency Center (PEC), in partnership with Philadelphia LISC.

The addition of the FOC will expand services currently offered through PEC’s Center for Employment and Training, which provides area residents with access to job readiness and placement programs. The FOC will focus on improving the financial bottom line for low-to-moderate individuals and their families through the integration of LISC’s comprehensive service model that includes financial education and coaching, employment training and placement, and access to public benefits.

rocket launch FOC crop

Pictured: PEC President and CEO Farah Jimenez; Philadelphia LISC Executive Director Andrew Frishkoff; Don Haskin from Citi Foundation at the “rocket launch” of PEC’s Financial Opportunity Center.

“Our formerly homeless residents face several barriers when entering or reentering the workforce, and many families in our neighborhood are one missed pay check away from losing their homes. We are thrilled to partner with Philadelphia LISC to provide this innovative model to our neighborhood and support residents in creating brighter financial futures for themselves and their families,” said Farah Jimenez, PEC President and CEO.

Pioneered by LISC, this one-stop-shop service approach is implemented across 70 centers nationwide, including two others in Philadelphia, operated by the University City District and the Asociación de Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM). In Philadelphia, the FOCs are made possible thanks to funding from Citi Foundation, State Farm, Walmart Foundation, and the William Penn Foundation.

“FOCs bundle complementary services for clients to make the greatest impact in people’s lives. We help families secure and maintain employment, increase their income, build savings, and acquire assets. It is a proven strategy for improving families’ long-term financial outlook, while contributing to neighborhood revitalization,” said Andrew Frishkoff, the Executive Director of Philadelphia LISC. “At LISC, we build on strong existing programs in the community, like PEC’s Center for Employment and Training. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with PEC and the community of West Philadelphia.”

PECLISCLaunchFOC

 

Request for Qualifications for Early Childhood Education Outreach Manager

December 16, 2013

Philadelphia LISC is issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to hire a consultant with expertise in community outreach and resident engagement around childcare and education, with a specialized focus on pre-Kindergarten to 3rd grade. The consultant would serve as the Outreach Manager and oversee the needs assessment, resident outreach and data collection process for the Drexel-Lenfest ECE Initiative. The Scope of Services set forth in the document attached details the tasks to be performed.

The deadline to receive qualifications is January 6, 2014. Questions can be directed no later than December 31 to Dana Hanchin by email at dhanchin@lisc.org or by phone at (215) 923-3801 ext. 14.

Please forward this RFQ to any contacts that you think would be qualified.

Click this link to download the RFQ.

Philadelphia City Council approves land bank legislation

December 12, 2013

Philadelphia is now the largest municipality in the country to have established a land bank, after City Council unanimously approved a land bank bill  on Thursday, December 12th. The land bank is hoped to provide a transparent and equitable process for putting Philadelphia’s 40,000 vacant and abandoned properties back into productive use. Philadelphia LISC is a member of the Philly Land Bank Alliance,  a diverse coalition of groups that continue to advocate for a transparent, efficient, accountable, equitable and predictable Land Bank.

Congratulations to our partners in the Alliance and to PACDC for their strong leadership in passing this historic legislation.

Below is a excerpt from the Philly Land Bank Alliance’s statement, following City Council’s vote.

Historic measure will reform the City’s broken vacant property system

Today, Philadelphia’s City Council approved Bill No. 130156-A by a vote of 15 – 0, which creates a Philadelphia Land Bank.  The Land Bank represents major reform of the City’s broken system for putting vacant properties back into productive use.

“Philadelphians who have been plagued by vacant properties in their neighborhoods will soon have a powerful tool in the Philadelphia Land Bank.  The Land Bank will make it easier and quicker for individuals, community groups, small businesses, community development corporations and market rate developers to turn vacant, blighted properties into vibrant, usable spaces,” said Rick Sauer, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC).  PACDC is part of the Philly Land Bank Alliance, a diverse coalition of groups that came together to advocate for a transparent, efficient, accountable, equitable and predictable Land Bank.

Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, who sponsored the Land Bank legislation, commented, “This Land Bank will finally give Philadelphia the tools we need to reclaim our neighborhoods from blight, abandonment, and tax delinquency, and to get properties back into productive reuse. Credit for this historic step is due to the leadership of Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, Council President Darrell Clarke, State Representative John Taylor, and an unprecedented coalition of organizations and individuals who came together to advocate for reform.”

Read the entire Philly Land Bank Alliance statement on phillylandbank.org.

Philadelphia LISC releases Annual Report

December 9, 2013
Hot off the press: Philadelphia LISC’s new annual report: “Partnerships that build communities and improve lives.”
Click on the image to download the web-optimized PDF. Or, see it on Facebook.

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Download the full-size PDF (not recommended for slower connections).

 

Photographs of the Paseo Verde Ribbon Cutting

December 5, 2013

LISC joined developers Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and Jonathan Rose Companies to cut the ribbon on the $48 Million model green development.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/1eSz5fD

Photos by Paul Gargagliano / paulgphotog.com

Paseo Verde, model green development, opens doors in Philadelphia

December 3, 2013

LISC joined developers Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and Jonathan Rose Companies to cut the ribbon on the $48 Million model green development.

Today, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and Jonathan Rose Companies cut the ribbon on “Paseo Verde,” the first LEED Neighborhood Development Platinum project in the U.S.

Paseo Verde is much more than a groundbreaking green development, however. It is also transit-oriented, mixed-income, and mixed-use. The finished development will include a federally-qualified health center (FQHC) and a LISC financial opportunity center, in addition to retail shops and restaurants. In this way, Paseo Verde is a model of comprehensive community development. It promises to catalyze revitalization in Eastern North and create a bridge to new opportunities for existing residents.

“Our vision is for a community of opportunity,” said APM President and LISC board member Nilda Ruiz. Transit-oriented developments (TODs) like Paseo Verde are built close to public transportation to connect people to jobs, affordable homes and health care, and schools, she said. They help create pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use communities that encourage convenience and walkability.

LISC celebrated the ribbon cutting of the $48 Million development with Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Darrell Clarke, and a long list of nonprofit, public and private sector partners. Located on a 1.9-acre former parking lot adjacent to the Temple University SEPTA Station, the development includes 120 units of housing and 30,000 sq. ft. of office and retail space and will generate 25 percent less energy than today’s code requires. The 206,000 sq.ft. project reserves 53 units as affordable for low- and moderate-income families who are expected to benefit from greater public transit access.

The green features of Paseo Verde include landscaped terraces, permeable pavement, and a series of green and blue roofs. The building design includes an energy efficient envelope and mechanical systems, solar panels, and the use of local, recyclable, and renewable materials. The development was recognized as a LEED ND Platinum project for establishing a model of coordinated green development projects in the Paseo Verde area.

“They thought it was pie in the sky,” says Rose Gray of Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), the Community Development Corporation who took the lead on organizing the community input, among many other roles, for the project near Temple University. “We were at the original design charrette at Greenbuild years ago, and all of these experts on LEED ND weren’t sure we could do it.”

LISC invested its first New Markets Tax Credits allocation in Philadelphia of $10 million into the project. LISC also provided the development team with a $1 million pre-development loan, a $350,000 pre-development grant, and a $13,500 grant for the LEED ND Platinum certification process. These early investments by LISC made Paseo Verde and its LEED ND Platinum designation possible.

“LISC invested over $11 million into this project, which I see as the crown jewel of 25 years of partnership with APM in Eastern North Philadelphia,” said LISC President Michael Rubinger. In that 25 years, LISC invested over $50 million in this neighborhood, he said, which has led to the development of over 400 homes, a supermarket, and a credit union. “From my perspective, Paseo Verde is one of the most impressive transit-oriented developments in the U.S. and a model for development everywhere.”

Transit-oriented developments like Paseo Verde connect downtown business districts and concentrated residential areas to each other, and to the rest of the city. They spur economic growth, maximize housing affordability, increase access to youth and job services, and improve green, open space for residents.

Across the country, LISC is supporting affordable and sustainable living in our urban cores and creating accessible environments around transit stations. LISC and its partner, National Equity Fund, Inc., have invested $190 million in TOD projects. Those investments have leveraged $890 million in total development activity and created 2,250 affordable homes and apartments and more than a half-million square feet of commercial space. Areas that were once crumbling are now pulsing with energy and liveliness.

“You can’t lose sight of how ambitious this project is,” says Alex Dews, Programs & Policy Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “It’s helping to change the character of the neighborhood in a way that respects what’s here already and provides additional amenities that it deserves, all while achieving the very highest levels of environmental sustainability and performance.”

Philadelphia is leading the way on affordable green housing and community-centered design, and the City of Philadelphia itself will adopt green affordable housing standards for all city projects beginning in 2014. LISC is excited to help Philadelphia lead the way to a greener future.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a program of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that provides third-party verification of green buildings and a green building tool that addresses the entire building lifecycle recognizing best-in-class building strategies. According to USGBC, LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEEDND) integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design.

As a result of Paseo Verde the ongoing investment and innovation of APM and LISC, the neighborhood is on the rise. “I remember Eastern North back when I lived in Philadelphia,” Rubinger said, “Today it is a completely different place, and APM is largely responsible for that.”

> To learn more about Philadelphia LISC, see http://philadelphialisc.org/aboutus

> To learn more about APM, see http://www.apmphila.org/

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