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First Housing Completed Under City Council Plan to Ensure Balanced Growth in Gentrifying Neighborhoods

           Philadelphia, May 24, 2017 Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Greg Heller, and representatives of BMK Properties on Wednesday celebrated the completed construction of new Workforce Housing in the increasingly desirable East Poplar neighborhood in North Philadelphia.

BMK Properties, a subsidiary of The Riverwards Group, has redeveloped vacant City-owned land to construct 13 single-family homes that are affordable to moderate-income households. BMK Properties is one of several developers participating in City Council’s Workforce Housing Initiative, which seeks to expand affordable housing opportunities in gentrifying neighborhoods and spark new construction in “middle neighborhoods” struggling to attract investment.

Council President Clarke thanked the partners involved in the East Poplar Workforce Housing development for showing a commitment to diversity and opportunity in gentrifying communities.

“In 2014, I challenged the City of Philadelphia and the home building industry to come together and find a way to make sure our real estate boom benefits as many residents as possible. The Workforce Housing Initiative was designed to incentivize equitable, balanced growth, in order to avoid the economic and racial segregation that so often is associated with gentrification,” Council President Clarke said. “Today, these beautiful and affordable new homes are being sold to hardworking and moderate-income people, who are truly the backbone of Philadelphia’s economy. Thank you to all who share Council’s vision for ensuring every Philadelphian is able to live in a community of choice.”

“This project is a powerful example of how the public sector can partner with the private sector to address pressing issues facing our communities,” said PRA Executive Director Greg Heller. “This project was built without any public subsidy other than a discount on the price of the land. Through this public-private partnership we can ensure a range of affordable housing in every community, bring blighted land back into active use, and allow the private sector to innovate in building high-quality, affordable homes. BMK has been a great partner and this project is truly a win for all involved.”

Eligible buyers must have household incomes below 120 percent of area median income (AMI). For a family of three in Philadelphia, AMI is approximately $88,050, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines. Buyers of Workforce Housing are prohibited from re-selling homes for more than the original sale price for 10 years. In addition to East Poplar, construction of new Workforce Housing in consultation with the PRA is ongoing in rapidly appreciating real estate markets such as those located in Point Breeze and Francisville.

“BMK Properties is proud to partner with the City of Philadelphia to ensure hardworking people continue to have opportunities to live in great neighborhoods close to good jobs, public transportation, and schools,” said Mo Rushdy of BMK Properties. “The Workforce Housing Initiative is a great example of how the private sector, housing agencies, and City Council are working together to make Philadelphia an even more attractive place to live and work.

Lawrence McKnight of BMK Properties added: “Ever since we started this company we have wanted to give back to those people who make our communities great. This program allows us to express our gratitude and provide future generations of Philadelphians high-quality homes to live in.”

The new Workforce homes in East Poplar were developed by BMK Properties and are being sold with assistance from Meridian Bank and Houwzer, a brokerage firm. The homes range from 1,100 to 1,200 square feet; are a mix of two-story and three-story; have a minimum of three bedrooms; have 92 percent energy efficient HVAC systems and hot water heaters; come with Energy Star appliances; and are covered by a one-year builder guarantee. Monthly mortgage costs including real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and private mortgage insurance for the homes range from approximately $1,000 to $1,400.

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Council President Darrell L. Clarke is serving his second term as the President of Philadelphia City Council. He represents Philadelphia’s 5th Council District. More information at

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