Over 30 children residing in the University City Townhomes — a housing development near Penn primarily occupied by Black and low-income Philadelphians — may have to switch schools as their families face eviction.
Tenants in the 70-unit townhouse complex have until Oct. 8 to find affordable housing, which will force many parents to move their children to different schools. Currently, many attend nearby West Philadelphia High and Powel Elementary School.
Activists have linked the scarcity of affordable housing in the University City area to Penn's gentrification efforts in West Philadelphia. Protestors recently interrupted Penn President Liz Magill's Convocation speech this Monday, demanding that the University take action to "Stop Penn-trification."
Currently, the evictions are scheduled for Oct. 8. Although Philadelphia Housing Authority distributed Section 8 federal housing vouchers, UC Townhomes residents told WHYY that many private landlords do not accept them and that housing rates in the city make it difficult to find affordable options.
One parent and longtime resident Rhonda Moore told WHYY that she's worried about her youngest son — who is on the autistic spectrum and currently attending West Philadelphia High — attending a different school after relocating.
"He doesn't like any changes. He knows that we are moving. I didn't discuss the whole switching school things yet," Moore told WHYY.
Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier, member of the Philadelphia City Council, stated that she is willing to help parents and students access transportation services through the Office of Educating Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness.
Altman Management Company, the owner of the UC Townhomes, decided not to renew its affordable housing contract with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last year. Though tenants were set to be evicted by July, the contract was extended that month to September, and again to the current date on August 29.