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The creation of houses for homeless families will continue this holiday season near University City.

Construction on the housing sponsored by the People’s Emergency Center at 42nd Street and Powelton Avenue recently began, and the two residences are expected to open next year, Trish Downey, PEC external communications manager said.

The first residence, which will be built from the ground up, will contain seven units of affordable housing for women with special needs and their children. The second set of apartments will open after the building at the vacant lot at 42nd and Powelton is refurbished. It will contain four apartments for families with moderate income.

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People living in the residences will also have access to a variety of PEC services, including access to affordable childcare, counseling and therapy, children’s programs and drug and alcohol treatment programs.

“This is a development that is taking over some blighted space,” Downey said, reflecting a community objective to gentrify the area.

The project has been in the works for a while.

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The plan was first conceived a little after 2004, Downey said. However, she added, “Oftentimes, we plan these projects and it takes us several years to get them funded [and] to acquire the property.”

In 2010, control of the site was first granted to PEC after the former housing at 42nd and Powelton was demolished. Then, in 2012, PEC first announced their plans for the Bigham Leatherby Wise Place, named in honor of three local community leaders.

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