More About Our History
Neighborhood revitalization was not the goal, at first.
New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) was founded in 1985 by leaders of a Fishtown neighborhood association to meet housing needs in the community. Our first 10 years focused on rehabilitating vacant homes and providing utility assistance, foreclosure prevention, first-time homebuyer help and other housing counseling services.
Through a neighborhood planning process in 1995, NKCDC was challenged to address additional quality-of-life issues. In 1996, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), we became the region’s first organization to use vacant land management as a strategy for neighborhood revitalization. In recognition of our work to clean and maintain hundreds of vacant lots, NKCDC received a Best Practices Award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the City of Philadelphia adopted our model through the PHS LandCare program.
In 1999, NKCDC added an economic development program to support artists and entrepreneurs, stimulate small business growth and bolster local employment opportunities. In 2001, NKCDC became the Neighborhood Advisory Committee for the community, a program of Philadelphia’s Division of Housing and Community Development. That same year NKCDC was named a chartered member of NeighborWorks America, a congressionally-funded network of more than 240 community development organizations across the country.
NKCDC became the first organization to complete a multi-use funding initiative through a Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency pilot program in 2005. Coral Street Arts House, a 2005 redevelopment of an abandoned textile mill in East Kensington, became the region’s first project to combine low-income housing with artist live-work space, winning a Grand Jury Award from the Philadelphia Preservation Alliance. In 2005, NKCDC also completed the first home repair project under the City of Philadelphia’s Targeted Basic System Repair Program.
A vision for neighborhood revitalization
With the completion of the North of Lehigh Neighborhood Revitalization Plan in 2013, NKCDC shifted its primary focus from Fishtown to Kensington, completing the $17.8 million Orinoka Civic House redevelopment of a former textile factory in 2017, and renting its 51 affordable apartments.
Today, NKCDC continues to develop affordable apartments and single-family homes; offers housing services to all Philadelphia residents; maintains hundreds of vacant lots across North Philadelphia; and provides small business resources, neighborhood planning, leadership development and community resources for the Kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond neighborhoods.
Our Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce development program improves health outcomes in Kensington. Our food and nutrition program, Nourish, delivers meal kits in Kensington, Fairhill and Juniata. And We CAN, a partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, has brought community organizations and police together to address issues of community safety across Kensington and Fairhill.
At NKCDC, we believe that neighborhood revitalization can and should benefit all residents.
Our challenge together
Kensington’s abandoned industrial buildings and convenient access to transportation have made it a center for the illegal drug market on the East Coast. At the same time, Fishtown and parts of Kensington have seen feverish land speculation and rapid redevelopment, with rising rents and real estate taxes stressing many longtime residents.
We use a strategic combination of real estate development, community engagement, and people-centered direct services to ensure all of our neighbors can remain—and thrive—where they choose to live. Whether we are building affordable housing or helping residents build their wealth, we pledge to promote equity, stability, and safety in all we do, with a sharp focus on those most at risk of being displaced.