People’s Emergency Center celebrates 25 years of community development

October 18, 2017

Though its Friday celebration will include a life-sized West Philly-themed board game, the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) knows their work is dead serious. Created 25 years ago, the group’s Community Development Corporation (CDC) has worked to ensure that the neighborhood’s ongoing transformation creates far more beneficiaries than victims. Now, at an outdoor party on 4050 Haverford Avenue, the CDC will mark what it believes has been a successful quarter-century.

“The history… It’s tremendous. It’s not easy doing this work,” said James Wright, PEC’s Director of Community Economic and Real Estate Development.

Wright says that PEC has helped catalyze an economic turnaround in the five neighborhoods it focuses on: Saunders Park, West Powelton, Belmont, Mantua, and Mill Creek. Vacancy has plummeted while incomes and high-school graduation rates have risen, and the group said home values quadrupled between 2000 and 2013. PEC has contributed to this upswing by converting vacant lots into housing; eliminating vacancy tends to increase surrounding home values. 

That might sound like the evictive winds of gentrification, but Wright insists that inclusive growth is not just possible, but that PEC has already been helping to make it happen. First of all, he said, increasing property values puts more capital in the hands of homeowners.

“Low home values are rarely beneficial for anyone,” he said.

At the same time, PEC knows that many West Philly residents are renters; so, to help keep rent affordable, the organization turns the aforementioned vacant lots into affordable housing. For example, at the beginning of this year, PEC opened an apartment complex for artists, where residents pay a variable rent based on their income. These projects are funded largely by federal grants funneled through the city. The organization also provides financial literacy training and helps people get jobs.

The celebration this Friday will begin at 5 p.m. and it will look much like a block party. That means a DJ, food, and a bouncy castle in addition to the life-sized board game.

“[People] should come because they want to participate in a fun activity on a Friday evening,” Wright said.

– Eduard Saakashvili

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Jasmine Johnson Says:

    I would like to be subscribed to the list …thanks

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