Chester, PA — Chester Housing Authority (CHA), the City of Chester’s largest affordable housing provider, will refurbish 110 housing units in the Ruth L. Bennett Homes. The announcement comes after the agency received a $5 million grant from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) Housing Options Program.
According to PHFA CEO Robin Wiessmann, “Part of the strategy for expanding affordable housing in Pennsylvania includes keeping current affordable housing stock from falling into disrepair and being taken out of service.”
The Ruth L. Bennett Homes, constructed in the 1940s, consists of 261 units. As a result of limited resources, the development is not operating at full capacity. Many units have become uninhabitable.
Eighty years of service to the community, exacerbated by more than two years of deferred maintenance due to the pandemic, has taken a toll,” said CHA Executive Director Steven A. Fischer. “These funds will address outdated kitchens and bathrooms, energy and water efficiency, mold and some structural issues,” Fischer added.
The Housing Options Program grant will help the CHA address the shortage of affordable housing and spur economic growth in the city by creating jobs during the renovation. The rehabbed apartments will also reduce homelessness.
The neighborhood known locally as “The Bennett” is worthy of replenishment, Fischer believes. Over the past 15 years, it has developed a two-acre community farm to address food inequity. It has also added a professional childcare center. For the past three years, its Learning Center has been the home to Delaware County Community College and Rotary Club-sponsored carpentry courses as well as Foundation for Delaware County services for women and infants.
“With all that has gone into making the Bennett vibrant, we believe these renovations will make Chester’s largest housing resource whole again,” said Fischer.