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Protests end fight over apartment complex

A group of Philadelphia residents embroiled in a real estate dispute with a nonprofit group has won its fight to keep an apartment complex from converting into housing for seniors and transgendered people.

The nonprofit group wanted to house elderly residents with mental health problems, as well as transgendered men and women who at one point had been homeless, in a 50-unit apartment building. The group had the blessings of the city, but area residents had said the zoning permits issued by Philadelphia officials did not match the actual use of the building. Rather than fight, the group voluntarily ended its efforts. Local residents said the planners had sold the project as apartment housing, not as a treatment or medical facility.

According to a later report, the group has switched gears, planning to move from the planned Kemble Avenue location near LaSalle University to an undisclosed site in the southwest part of Philadelphia. The group already owns that residential site, but it cannot accommodate as many residents. Since the group already had used that property for transitional housing, neither the group nor the city expects a protest from local residents.

A city official said Philadelphia could have as many as 3,000 transgendered adults who need a place to live. And the nonprofit group said the proposed senior housing would have provided a supervised residential facility for people in medically fragile conditions, both physically and mentally.

While it may seem heartless, zoning regulations exist for a reason, and both sides have a right to dispute whether a planned development complies with those regulations. It appears the nonprofit group will still get to move ahead with its project at a different site, and hopefully that satisfies area residents.

Source: NewsWorks, "Kemble Avenue at-risk housing proposal nixed," Amy Z. Quinn, March 24, 2012

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