Affordable Housing is Still Needed in Point Breeze

My elected city councilman, Kenyatta Johnson, has been going through some trying times over the issue of affordable housing in the Point Breeze neighborhood.  I hope that he will stand his ground on the issue of maintaining housing that any resident of Point Breeze can live in.  Demographically, the neighborhood is changing back to what it used to be.  In the late 1960's, thee were still Italian families living in the neighborhood.  I went to Saint Rita's with many of them.  As I graduated in the late 1970's, many of the families began to move of of the neighborhood.  The Montenegro's, DeColli's, Faragalli's and Conaways were families that I called friends.

Recently, after some tremendous development led by Universal Homes, a reverse migration has begun.  Some of my peers were caught up in the criminal justice system as teenagers  We were somewhat limited in our social outlets and trouble lurked on most corners.  Those of us who were fortunate enough to play basketball or other sports were able to find our way out of the neighborhood. Some of us were academically inclinded and this helped us to overcome any income deficiency.  All in all, it was a great neighborhood to grow up in.  It wasn't Mt. Airy, West Oak Lane or Logan, but in retrospect, it provided a foundation for many successful individuals.

Affordability is a big reason why Point Breeze is diversifying now.  Many non-minority individuals are moving back in our area now.  I worked the polls on Election Day and was surprised by the number of young couples and individuals, many new to the neighborhood, who voted.  I think it shows progress.  I moved to Roxborough for about seven years and affordability became an issue.  I invested in a property that I presently live in and it has appreciated tremendously. In many ways, I never left Point Breeze.  My Mother, Brothers, Aunts and many friends live here.  I am willing to be a good neighbor to anyone that moves here because diversity will be key to a strong neighborhood moving forward.

I understand Mr. Feibush and his developer friends want to build as much high end housing as possible.  It reminds me of a company led by John Westrum.  He developed the Navy Yard, Brewerytown and East Falls.  He developed so much, so fast, that he eventually had to have an auction with excess property that he couldn't sell.  Sam Sherman is another example of a developer who had big dreams but mixed results.  Spring Arts Point was a great idea which didn't pan out.  There is danger in market rate housing in today's job market.  A number of builders in the suburbs have gone bankrupt trying to build mini-mansions.  I guess Point Breeze has become a desitnation of sorts.  Who would have thought this would be the case twenty years ago?

New residents and coffee shop owners should not dictate how a community is run.  Our elected officials, including Jordan Harris and Larry Farnese should never forget that people still need help.  Everyone cannot afford to live in market rate housing.  Government should continue to fight for those less fortunate in these trying times.  Continue to fight Councilman Johnson.  We need your help every step of the way.

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