For the first time, the Philadelphia Housing Authority will auction off hundreds of vacant properties in North, West, and South Philadelphia in an effort to unload houses and lots that it cannot afford to maintain or develop.

PHA's executive director, Michael P. Kelly, will announce Thursday that the agency will hold an auction for more than 400 properties at 1 p.m. Nov. 16.

Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co. will conduct the sale, to be held at PHA's finance office building at 1800 S. 32d St. in the Greater Grays Ferry development.

The available properties, ranging from lots to rowhouses and multiunit buildings, will be listed at www.maxspann.com. The properties will be offered individually as well as in groups of up to 25.

PHA will hold a series of informational sessions: Oct. 19 and Nov. 2 at the Greater Grays Ferry site, and Oct. 26 at PHA's Warnock Center, 2862 Germantown Ave. in North Philadelphia. A list of properties, instructions on how to bid, and the terms of the sale will be distributed.

"These properties are part of a large inventory not being used," said Kelly. "We felt that an auction was the best way to put these homes and lots into the hands of those who can make productive use of them and return them to the city's tax rolls."

As the city's largest landlord, PHA holds a staggering inventory of 3,300 blighted properties. Most of the scattered sites were acquired in the 1960s and '70s during a wave of foreclosures in the city.

Last year, PHA received approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to dispose of about a third of those vacant sites.

Contact staff writer Jennifer Lin at 215-854-5659, jlin@phillynews.com or @j_linq on Twitter.