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CONTACT: Matt Maisel
Director of Communications, City of Harrisburg
(717) 255-7295
[email protected]

March 9, 2023

HARRISBURG – City leaders and housing experts have started a two-year process which will eventually lead to reimagined and redesigned public housing in South Harrisburg.

The Harrisburg Housing Authority, alongside the City of Harrisburg’s Department of Building and Housing Development (DBHD), were recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The purpose of the funds is to redesign, and ultimately redevelop, the Hoverter Homes housing project.

All 233 units in the complex would be impacted by the grant, with plans to eliminate the current World War II-era barracks-style homes which have stood since 1941 and create a modern, mixed-income development in its place.

Hoverter was chosen first due to it being the older of the two public housing sites, and it being smaller in size compared to the adjacent Hall Manor housing complex, and its 540-units, which have stood since the 1950s. Hall Manor is not part of the grant, although City and HHA leaders stress the plan is to include it in future projects.

Johan Soto-Santa of the Harrisburg Housing Authority speaks to City of Harrisburg and community leaders ahead of their tour of Hall Manor public housing on Monday, March 6, 2023.

“There’s a lot of improvement we can do for this community, mostly for the kids who are growing up here,” said Johan Soto-Santa, Development and Revitalization Manager for the Harrisburg Housing Authority.

On Monday, March 6, City government officials, HHA members, and other community leaders joined Chicago-based urban planning firm COLLABO for the first of what is expected to be many tours through the two neighborhoods. Its principal consultant, Adam Rosa, said COLLABO was chosen due to its experience implementing HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program.

Over the next two years, Rosa said, COLLABO, HHA, and the City will engage with the South Harrisburg community to determine how they want their future neighborhood to look.

COLLABO plans to implement the final product based on three core elements, he added: People, housing, and neighborhoods. People projects will focus on supportive services like education, health care, job training, and economic development; the housing strategy will focus on creating mixed-income redevelopment of homes in South Harrisburg; and neighborhood projects propose to create playgrounds, parks, and open spaces.

“Because of the age of the property, you feel like you’re walking through a community that was designed 75 years ago,” Rosa said. “We want to think of this as, how can we re-envision this as a real neighborhood with a mix of different uses and housing types for families?”

Adam Rosa, principal consultant at COLLABO, listens to Harrisburg Housing Authority CEO Senghor Manns during a tour of South Harrisburg public housing on Monday, March 6, 2023.

There will be multiple public meetings held between now and when the grant expires on December 22, 2024, for community members to share their thoughts on how they envision the future of Hoverter Homes and Hall Manor. Dates and times for those meetings are to be determined.

Once the grant period is completed, the City and Housing Authority will apply with HUD to implement the plan, which will be tens of millions of dollars of the more than $180 million made available for Choice Neighborhoods projects.

“This is huge because it gives the residents of South Harrisburg a say in the homes they deserve,” said Dennise Hill, City of Harrisburg Director of Building and Housing. “There haven’t been upgrades to public housing in Harrisburg since they were constructed (more than 70 years ago), and I’m excited that HHA is taking the lead to remedy those issues.”

The City of Harrisburg is actively engaged in promoting social and economic development in the South Harrisburg area. Among the projects potentially in the works include a nearly $10 million water park which will replace the defunct Hall Manor pool. Money for that project is made possible by federal American Rescue Plan funds, which are pending allocation by Harrisburg City Council.