Philadelphia Housing Authority Wins Sustainability Award

The Philadelphia Housing Authority has won a “Pioneer in Housing Award” in recognition of its commitment to tackling critical environmental and energy issues with an entrepreneurial approach to financing development.

The NMA Housing Awards, which honor agencies that build bridges to the future and create real change in their communities and the affordable housing industry, particularly recognized PHA for sustainable development.

“At a time when energy efficiency and green building methods are of prime importance, the Philadelphia Housing Authority is leading the way in developing sustainable sites that will save money for residents and taxpayers in the long term,” the award judges said.

The agency was also cited for distinguishing itself through the use of tax credit financing and acting as its own developer, while receiving an investment grade rating (AA-) from Standard and Poor’s, as well as top ratings on bond issues from S&P.

Nan McKay & Associates, Inc., the industry leader in providing performance improvement solutions including training, consulting, and products to subsidized housing agencies, reviewed award applications from across the country.

“We are thrilled to receive this honor for agency performance and excellence in the affordable housing industry,” said Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA’s Interim Executive Director. “We clearly intend to build on this record through future commitments to sustainability and further improvements to our financial practices. High level performance in these areas is critical to the success of the agency in the future, in light of shrinking government resources.”

In October 2011, the agency completed the construction of Mantua Square in West Philadelphia. Solar panels at the site generate electricity to serve the common space, community room, and courtyard security system to deal with rising utility costs. The rest of the power produced is sold to the local electric grid. The money saved on day-to-day operations will go toward the design and development of new housing.

In late November 2011, PHA opened Paschall Village, a high performance green development in Southwest Philadelphia.  Homes at the development feature central geothermal heating and cooling, solar domestic hot water, solar panels, rainwater harvesting /irrigation systems, hardwood floors, and Energy Star fixtures and equipment.

PHA also reached out to the scientific community at Drexel University, which provided cutting-edge, cost-effective, innovative design/building solutions at Paschall. Projected savings are 30 to 35 percent per month. The use of green technology throughout the development and other, natural features help the City of Philadelphia reduce its carbon footprint.

In May 2012, PHA took another step into the future with the grand opening of the new Norris Apartments in North Philadelphia, the agency’s first development to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification program.

The agency has also raised over $318 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (private equity) over the past decade. This represents about one-fourth of all the initiatives in the agency’s pipeline.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority Development Corporation has generated over $35.9 million in developer fees through limited partnerships and homeownership development. The money can be reinvested toward more affordable housing, an especially valuable source of income, given the tight economy and lower federal appropriations.


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