The first phase of a 10-part, $500 million revitalization project in North Philadelphia is complete - though officials voiced veiled concern about what a new administration in Washington could mean for federal public housing dollars in the future.
The Philadelphia Housing Authority's Sharswood/Blumberg project, 21/2 miles north of Center City, unveiled 57 newly constructed single-family units Wednesday.
The units make up the first of more than 1,200 market rate and affordable rentals and homes planned for the area.
The PHA plan also calls for restoration of the commercial corridor on Ridge Avenue, where PHA's new headquarters and a supermarket are slated to open.
In all, the process will take five to seven years.
President-elect Donald Trump has not laid out plans regarding HUD funding or named a HUD secretary, but the prospect that a more conservative administration could mean affordable housing cuts put some on edge at Wednesday's celebration.
"We better hurry up; as a matter of fact, we're going to have a groundbreaking tomorrow for the next phase because we don't know what's going to happen next week," Council President Darrell L. Clarke said to laughs.
Clarke grew up around the corner from the new units and has been a proponent of the project.
The city's public housing authority gets 94 percent of its money from HUD, CEO Kelvin Jeremiah said
Jeremiah said 80 percent of the Sharswood project is funded, but that is assuming federal funding stays at its current level.
"We're having a significant change in January," Jeremiah said. "I haven't seen any of the president-elect's plans for affordable housing . . . but I'm an optimist."
Ieasha Henderson, who lived in the Norman Blumberg apartments, demolished in March as part of the revitalization efforts, will move into one of the new three-story homes with her three daughters and grandson.
On Wednesday, she got a first glimpse of the new digs.
"It was scary at first to move away not really knowing what's going happen, but to see they're actually doing what they said they would is really nice," Henderson, 38, said.
"It's beautiful and I'm feeling appreciative that they got us back down here and in time for the holidays."