Author: Cheryl Hess
Title: Past/Presence: Saving the Spring Garden School
Category: Affordable Housing
Description: The Spring Garden School No. 1 in North Philadelphia had been sitting vacant and abandoned for nearly 30 years before the Philadelphia Housing Authority teamed with the non-profit Help USA to convert the property into affordable housing for low-income senior citizens and homeless veterans. Since 2013 the school district of Philadelphia has sold off over 20 properties and although some have been converted into market-rate apartments and condominiums, the Spring Garden School is the only one that offers affordable units to an under-served population. Now known as the Lural L. Blevins Center the building has 37 units and also offers social services including health care, counseling and employment opportunities to its residents. Philadelphia is currently experiencing a massive building boom and people are worried about the city losing its neighborhoods and its character. The question I plan to explore in the short piece is how can a city be forward looking and preserve its past?