Quality Public Housing Improves Life in Chester
Pennsylvania’s Oldest City Experiencing Rebirth
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 was a day for celebration in Chester, Pennsylvania. That afternoon, Governor Ed Rendell, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, HUD, Sandra Henriquez, Normal L. Shapiro, US District Court Judge, Wendell Butler, Jr., Mayor of Chester and other public officials were hosted by developer Israel Roizman to break ground for the newest affordable senior housing in Chester, Edgemont Senior Apartments and Madison Senior Apartments. As Robert C. Rosenberg, Judicial Administrator for Development of the Chester Housing Authority and President of Rosenberg Housing Group stated in his speech at the ceremony, “When I started working with the Chester Housing Authority in 1994, the CHA was a negative factor in this very distressed city. Much of its housing was unfit for human habitation, and, crime and drugs were rampant on its sites. I can proudly say that CHA is no longer part of the problem, it is part of the solution- providing some of the best and safest housing in the city. And working with our development partner, Roizman Development, by successfully obtaining stimulus grants from HUD, PHFA, and DCED it became possible to get these two shovel ready jobs underway, helping to create desperately needed jobs as well as economic activity in this community.”
These two senior housing developments represent the fulfillment of a $20 million HOPE VI grant issued in 2004 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Chester Housing Authority. The two four-story buildings, to be known as Edgemont Senior Apartments and Madison Senior Apartments will create a total of 125 dwelling units, where the former Chester Towers stood. Chester Towers, suffering from problems ranging from asbestos to crime and drug dealing, was demolished in 2008. In addition to the apartment buildings, the development will include new offices for the Chester Housing Authority.
Since 1994, when the Chester Housing Authority was placed under federal court receivership by Judge Norma L. Shapiro, it has been engaged in rebuilding all of it’s sites. This groundbreaking is the culmination of those efforts.
Governor Ed Rendell declared the project an excellent example of federal stimulus dollars at work Rosenberg Housing Group estimates that 300 construction jobs were created by the stimulus grants as part of the leveraging of the original $20 million Hope VI grant into over $84 million in economic activity. The recent construction closing of Edgemont Senior Apartments was the first exchange stimulus grant involving public housing to close in the US.