Preserving Hogar de Esperanza: Supportive Housing in Germantown

On Friday, January 22nd, Asociacion Puertorriquenos En Marcha, Inc. (APM) closed on a PRA loan to enable them to make the second phase of repairs and upgrades to Hogar de Esperanza, or “Hogar,” is a 20 unit apartment building in Eastern North Philadelphia for formerly homeless individuals or families with members diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. All residents (who are at or below 30% of Area Median Income) receive social services. RHLS Director of Economic Development, Laura Schwartz, represented APM for the work.

“RHLS have helped us to preserve these homes affordable by representing us in many cases at no charge. RHLS’s knowledge, expertise in housing is matched by no one, and Rose always comments about the pleasure it is working with you throughout the years.  We can always depend on RHLS to give us the best advice to protect the agency and keep these projects viable.” Nilda I. Ruiz, President/CEO of APM (mentioning Rose Gray, Senior Vice President Community & Economic Development).

Hogar was developed in 1996 when the antiviral cocktail was not available. In many cases, those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were abandoned by their families and became homeless. Notwithstanding the sea change in HIV/AIDS treatment since then, the need for affordable rental units continues to be great within the homeless HIV/AIDS community. Hogar is located at 2203 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia and is a roughly 22,000 sq. ft., four-story building consisting of 12 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments. All twenty units of housing are accessible for individuals living with physical disabilities. At Hogar, APM additionally provides case management services to residences or ensures they are receiving case management services from partnered community-based organizations.

APM’s Hogar residence has stably housed twenty individuals experiencing HIV/AIDS, and their families for nearly two decades. The resident turnover rate for tenants at Hogar is extremely low, as the tenants at this property have found stable, supportive housing. In addition to coping with their diagnosis, many who live at Hogar remain on limited incomes and pay rent subsidized by various local, state, and federal programs. The continued operation and management of Hogar as an affordable residence is dependent on the availability of continued financial and legal structures that maintain the affordable housing and allow for necessary building improvements.

RHLS represented APM when Hogar was first developed and provided legal services for both stages of the preservation effort.