Beginning in 1995, the Homeless Program Committee of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition (GPUAC) began to explore how redevelopment plans for the Philadelphia Naval Base could help the homeless.

Federal law requires that the needs of the homeless be considered when local governments redevelop properties once owned by the Department of Defense. This law, the McKinney Act, passed in 1994, provided the opportunity for GPUAC to work with the City of Philadelphia and the federal government to create a Homeless Assistance Plan for the Philadelphia Naval Base.

Following a competitive bidding process, GPUAC was selected by the City of Philadelphia to work in partnership with the City to implement the Homeless Assistance Plan for the Philadelphia Naval Base. In March 1996, HUD approved the City of Philadelphia/GPUAC plan for the Philadelphia Naval Base.

In late 1997, the City of Philadelphia was able to buy the Philadelphia Naval Base, to convert it to civilian use. Included in the transfer of property from the Navy to the City was a trend-setting agreement to enable homeless Philadelphians to move into permanent housing throughout the City.

While the Naval Base itself had primarily economic development potential, the conversion package included the Capehart housing development, 400 houses on 27 acres adjacent to but removed from the shipyard facilities.

Although the City and advocates both wanted to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to benefit the homeless, neither believed that the Capehart housing itself was well-suited for use as homeless housing. The idea of 400 homeless households clustered together in a relatively isolated part of South Philadelphia was not appealing. Rather, they decided to pursue an innovative idea of enabling the Capehart property to be sold to a private developer to be used for market rate sales housing, and using the proceeds of the sale to capitalize a Homeless Assistance Trust Fund.

A “Cooperation Agreement” between the City and GPUAC dated December 1, 1996 detailed how the Homeless Assistance Plan for the Philadelphia Naval Base was to be implemented. The initial members of the HAFI, appointed by Mayor Edward G. Rendell in late1996, were: two senior officials of the City of Philadelphia (John Kromer and Michael P. Nardone), two members of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition (Ernest E. Jones and Robert Downing), and one other member representing the homeless community (Sister Mary Scullion).

Founding HAFI Board members (2002), appointed by then City Managing Director Estelle Richman are:

- Sharmain Matlock-Turner, President, GPUAC
- Bob Downing, retired, Vice President, Rohm Haas and GPUAC Board of Directors
- Robert Hess, Deputy Managing Director, Special Needs Housing
- Joseph Mitchell, Director, Office of Emergency Shelter and Services

On December 26, 2002, the Capehart property was sold to a local private developer, Westrum, for $5.1 million. The net available to the HAFI is $4.66 million, after subtracting from the purchase price fees that went to the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. for negotiating the deal and overseeing the property. Interest generated from the $4.66 million is to be used to benefit homeless activities in the City of Philadelphia.

THE HOMELESS ASSISTANCE FUND, INC. was officially incorporated as a non-profit in January 2004 and in January 2005, its first Request for Proposals (RFP) was distributed. The Asociacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM) was awarded a $200,000 grant to provide rental assistance and supportive services.

Presently, HAFI issues an RFP - usually every two years - with the intent to fund projects that assist homeless individuals and families in accessing permanent housing.

Homeless Assistance Fund, Inc. · PO Box 27785 · Philadelphia, PA 19118 · 267-297-7661

Home     Contact     Privacy Policy