Health and Wellness Health, Wellness & Healing Corridors

Health, Wellness, and Healing Corridors

Phase 01 of a comprehensive plan to address the social determinants of health in Kensington

Shared commitment to social determinants of health

Two local community development corporations, NKCDC and Impact Services are working toward a comprehensive plan that can address the social determinants of health in Kensington, Philadelphia.

Social determinants of health are economic and social conditions that have a profound effect on the health of individuals and communities. By addressing factors like employment, education, child care, medical access, and physical environment, Kensington can overcome the worst health factors and outcomes in Philadelphia.

As the first phase of this approach, Impact, NKCDC, and their partners have drawn from existing neighborhood plans to make strategic investments along neighborhood corridors.

Healthy Corridors map

Shared goals

Services and resources in Kensington are overwhelmingly directed at people suffering from homelessness and substance abuse disorder. We aim to expand services and opportunities so that long-term residents in the neighborhood also have what they need to thrive and be successful.  

Combining our strengths and relying on partners to bring theirs, Impact and NKCDC are:

  • Addressing neighborhood trauma 
  • Creating safe, clean neighborhood green spaces 
  • Developing significant real estate as corridor anchors  
  • Meeting violence with data-driven strategies 
  • Providing housing and housing support 
  • Creating jobs and workforce development opportunities, and  
  • Supporting the overall health and wellbeing of Kensington’s residents.  

Anchor projects


Kensington Empowerment Hub

Orinoka Civic House, 2771 Ruth Street 

A sunlit commercial space in Orinoka Civic House, at the corner of Somerset and Ruth Streets, has been converted to work stations and meeting space for critical service partners such as Community Legal Services, Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, and the Campaign for Working Families. Coupled with NKCDC’s community health workers and housing counselors, the Empowerment Hub is becoming a one-stop shop for resources and social supports for some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable families. 

780 sq ft of community space
$200,000+ investment



A and Indiana

124 East Indiana Avenue

By redeveloping a historic mill, Impact Services is addressing several social determinants of health: eliminating blight, increasing affordable housing, and reversing a decades-old cycle of disinvestment. The first phase of the project delivered 48 units of affordable housing in 2022. When complete, the campus will include a community center, a gym, communal outdoor spaces, and 68,000 square feet of commercial space reserved for a mission-aligned partner.

48 units of affordable housing
68,000 sq ft of commercial space
$22M investment



McPherson Square  

601 East Indiana Avenue

McPherson Square Park and Library are among the most visible institutions in the neighborhood and serve as a key anchors. Improvements to the park include: the complete redevelopment of the library and park through the city’s Rebuild initiative, 10 scattered-site affordable housing units facing the park, organizing and strengthening the Friends of McPherson civic group, and after school and summer programs that create safe spaces for children and help activate the library and park year-round.

6 acre park
10,000 sq ft library
$13M potential investment

Tusculum Square

2713-2719 Kensington Avenue

Through private foundation support, NKCDC is working to purchase four vacant lots and activate them as community garden and gathering space. Working with near neighbors, local family-serving organizations (churches, libraries, community centers, schools), and supportive resource partners, we will improve health outcomes through food access, nutrition education, access to resources and primary medical care, increased land sovereignty, violence reduction, and resilience through trauma-informed practice.

3,850 sq ft of open space
$100,000+ investment



Center for Engagement

3000 Kensington Avenue

Identified in Impact’s Heart of Kensington plan as a key corridor property, NKCDC has purchased and will renovate the building as a center for community engagement and youth programming. Space for interactive planning events, input/feedback sessions, exhibits, maps and drawings will occupy the first floor. Office and meeting space for NKCDC and Impact programs as well as community partners will occupy the second and third floors through the planning process.  

3,573 sq ft of community space
$1M+ investment



Ruth Street Civic House

2721-69 Ruth Street 

NKCDC won Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding to build 44 affordable one-and-two-bedroom apartments just south of our residences and offices at Orinoka Civic House, and one block from Tusculum Square. With an additional subsidy from the Philadelphia Housing Authority, half the building will be priced for households making 20 or 30 percent of Philadelphia’s Area Median Income—much closer to the actual median family income in Kensington.

44 units of affordable housing
$19M investment


Next Steps 

Impact and NKCDC are bringing additional partners together to address the social determinants of health in Kensington. Together, a growing group of neighbors, civic associations, and other partners are outlining the structure for a community-driven, strengths-based, trauma-informed development north of Lehigh Avenue. We agree on five core pieces for this structure:

  • POCKETS – Identify and bring together existing and emerging neighborhood groups to identify their specific needs, desires and vision for the community, and share them across all the groups. We will have a goal of supporting at least 20 pockets with a template for engagement process so that all groups produce similar materials at the end.
  • PRIORITIES – Support pockets in collecting and organizing priorities for their group, similar to a point-by-point list presented to the Mayor a year ago. These community lists will serve as a starting point for a series of forums over the next year and inform the major areas to focus the planning process.
  • POLITICS – Host a series of five candidate forums, each of which will be sponsored and facilitated by the pairing of a local community development corporation (HACE, NKCDC, Impact) and the surrounding civic organizations or active “pocket” groups. Each will focus on the issues that are most relevant to the sponsoring groups.
  • PROPERTIES/PROJECTS – Leverage infrastructure—buildings, open space, etc.—that is currently under development to move projects, programs, and community priorities forward.
  • PLANNING – Pull together leadership and materials from community groups, and combine needs and desires into a comprehensive neighborhood plan that has mechanisms for ongoing engagement and repetition of these steps.

This framework makes room for many stakeholders, partners and participants, with the community at the center. We are inviting everyone to come to the table to be a part of this holistic strategy.  

We envision a new way of working in Kensington—one that makes room for everyone, but keeps the Kensington community in the center.


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