At NKCDC, anyone in Philadelphia can get free help to rent, buy or maintain their home. NKCDC also rents more than 80 affordable apartments in Kensington. This year, those two services came together through the City of Philadelphia’s Shallow Rent Pilot Program.
When Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC) announced the Shallow Rent Pilot Program in January, Philadelphia was only the sixth city in the U.S. to address the national housing affordability crisis with that kind of rental assistance. Through the program, PHDC pledged to help renters spending more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing.
NKCDC and our property management team, Multifamily Management of Philadelphia, submitted an application in March. Then the Covid-19 pandemic closed in. Dozens of NKCDC tenants lost income. Thanks to a quick response from PHDC, we were able to revise our application and include the newly cost-burdened households.
In July, we received Shallow Rent Program vouchers for 32 tenants. The vouchers retroactively included rent for May, June, and July, and will continue for one full year. Those funds add up to over $168,000 for the first year, with potential to renew for four additional years.
A great example of who this program helps is one of NKCDC’s first tenants, a middle-aged mom with a disability, who could afford the rent while she shared her apartment with her adult son. When her son moved out and started his own family, she found herself spending up to 80 percent of her income on rent, and her son found it hard to help. They worried that she would lose her apartment and her independence. Now, she is able to spend a healthy amount of her income on rent.
“This is the time to keep people in their homes!” said NKCDC’s resident services associate, Renee Horst.
In addition to the Shallow Rent Program, NKCDC has been able to connect tenants to PHL COVID-19 Emergency Rent Assistance, PHFA COVID-19 Emergency Rent Assistance, UESF Rent Assistance, and the HELP Homelessness Prevention Program. Thirty to 50 residents have received food deliveries every week since March from Easter Outreach, a partnership between Philabundance, West Kensington Ministries, Liberti Church, and Urban Worship Center.
NKCDC tenants have pulled together to support each other. While staying safe at home, residents cultivated vibrant gardens at Orinoka Civic House and Coral Street Arts House, and artists at Coral Street hosted a virtual First Friday event for the community.
Thanks to a collaboration between Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, NKCDC also was able to provide $500 in rental assistance to 90 residents across the community. Home4Good provided funding for homelessness prevention efforts and was administered locally by the Office of Homeless Services. That grant also included support for financial literacy workshops and one-on-one guidance with an NKCDC housing advisor.
To request your virtual appointment with an NKCDC Housing Advisor, leave a voicemail at 215-427-0350 or go online at nkcdc.org/housing-services/request-a-housing-appointment/. Learn more about living at Orinoka Civic House or Coral Street Arts House by visiting nkcdc.org/housing-services/apartments-for-rent/.