Upper Darby Native the Pioneer of Affordable Housing in North Philly

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Photo of Nora Lichtash courtesy of Kimberly Paynter, WHYY.

An Upper Darby native who once taught GED classes at a community center in 1986 has since taught herself and others who’ve struggled to find housing how to “build nearly 300 housing units across the city, apartments that they have stubbornly kept affordable even as a development boom rose around them.”

“They’ve built daycares and health centers and parks on abandoned lots,” a Philadelphia Inquirer report by Aubrey Whelan stated.

That woman from Upper Darby, Nora Lichtash, is now the executive director of the city’s only women-led community development organization, the Women’s Community Revitalization Project.

These townhomes at Trenton Avenue and East Auburn Street in Philadelphia are the latest development of the Women's Community Revitalization Project. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Paynter, WHYY.
These townhomes at Trenton Avenue and East Auburn Street in Philadelphia are the latest development of the Women’s Community Revitalization Project. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Paynter, WHYY.

“They are a major contributor in shaping the changing urban-development landscape for our city, and ensuring that quality affordable housing opportunities continue to exist throughout the city,” said Fred Purnell, Philadelphia’s Deputy Director for Housing and Community Development.

That 30-year legacy has not been easy, though, and the WCRP continues to wrestle with endless zoning battles. Nevertheless, the fight has been worth it for the many people the organization has helped.

“I believe that if someone’s going to help you, they have to know what it’s all about,” said tenant-turned-board member Norma Santiago. “These are women that went through some of the same things we were going through.”

Read more about Upper Darby’s Nora Lichtash and the 30-year journey of WCRP in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

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