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A program that began in 2000 to rehabilitate area homes has stopped expanding, but 400 properties near campus have been restored as a result of its efforts .

The Neighborhood Preservation and Development Fund was created by the University and its partners to buy dilapidated homes in University City and rent them at cheaper rates to graduate students and West Philadelphia residents.

Since its creation, the NPDF has bought 21 properties within its boundaries between Chestnut Street, Woodland Avenue, 40th Street and 50th Street. These properties contain about 400 rental units.

Ed Datz. executive director of real estate, said that for now the NPDF is focusing on managing its existing units, but he did not eliminate the possibility of future expansion.

"That depends on the availability of the right kind of assets available at a reasonable price," he said.

Although the stated goal of the program is to provide housing options for graduate students and local residents, NPDF properties are available for undergraduate students and Penn staff as well, and many have taken advantage of the program.

According to Datz, 18 percent of the properties owned by the NPDF are rented by graduate students, while undergraduates represent 14 percent.

Penn staff members constitute 16 percent of the NPDF's business, and 35 percent of the properties are rented by community members unaffiliated with the University.

After purchasing properties, the NPDF performs the necessary maintenance to restore them to code compliance before they are offered for rental. Building improvements are overseen by an asset manager, who is employed by the NPDF, not Penn.

Datz said community members have welcomed the NPDF because of its efforts to rehabilitate properties that are poorly managed and maintained.

"The community welcomed responsible, engaged management," Datz said.

The NPDF was founded as a limited-liability company by Penn and a group of other investors, including the University of the Sciences and Altman Properties. Penn originally invested $3 million in the project, which was leveraged into more than $40 million in equity and debt to finance it.

The investors have all agreed to accept a less-than-market rate of return on their investments, and so far all profits from the venture have been reinvested to finance additional units.

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