The Philadelphia Housing Authority on Tuesday announced a one-day auction of more than 200 PHA-owned properties scattered around the city, mainly in the North Philadelphia and Center City areas.
The auction, which will be held July 16 and coordinated by Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co., is expected to net several million dollars.
"These properties have been vacant for many years and unfortunately due to budgets cuts, PHA does not have the resources to rehab or maintain [them]," PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah said at a press conference on the 2100 block of North Marston Street, where five properties will be auctioned off.
"Therefore, by selling the properties we will generate badly needed revenue to use on other capital projects while allowing the private market to put these houses back into service."
But residents of the North Philadelphia block, who say they've worked together to keep the street free of the debris attracted by the vacant properties, are skeptical whether they'll reap tangible benefits from the auction.
"It's good because they're building new houses, but what about the people who already live on the block?" said a homeowner who gave her name only as Yolanda.
"Are they going to straighten up the block or invest here, fix up the lots or do something for the kids?"
Alina O. said residents have long been working together to clean up the street, absent help from the city or PHA.
"They want more money for their properties. The only thing I want to do is make the neighborhood look better," she said, noting residents scrambled to clean the sidewalks and lots before the press conference, as no city crews came by to sweep.
Still, Jeremiah noted auction profits will help fund PHA's newly established community development partnership subsidizing privately owned low income housing.
"It is reassuring to know that as we raise money from the sale of these properties we are also contributing to the improvement of the blocks where the houses are located," he said.
While Max Spann Executive Vice President Bob Dann admitted there have been in past PHA auctions more buyers looking to develop properties and rent or sell them, he also pointed out rehabbed homes raise property values for all neighbors.
"Anytime they fix up the neighboring houses, it's raising [residents'] property values," he said.
"It will also keep the properties from falling down or creating more blight or injuries, so I see it as a great sign we're fixing up neighborhoods, one by one."
Yolanda remained unconvinced.
"They're going to have on the block brand new houses, but the rest are going to be raggedy," she said.
"It's going to look kind of crazy if there are new houses and the rest are crumbling."
Max Spann will hold three auction informational sessions at Greater Grays Ferry Estates, located at 1800 S. 32nd St., so prospective bidders can review the lists of properties, get instructions on the bidding process, find out terms of the sale and ask questions.
The seminars are scheduled for 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. June 26, July 2 and July 9.
Those interested in obtaining a full list of properties and information package are encouraged to visit Max Spann's website or call 888-299-1438.