June 2, 2008
Mayor Nutter's decision to conduct a forensic audit of the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative provides a welcome opportunity to assess a program that costs too much and has failed to deliver on its promise. It was always hard to get a handle on NTI's performance when its creator, John Street, was mayor. Street was always quick to recount the good things that NTI had done but was loath to discuss the agency's shortcomings. Nutter is acting in the wake of questionable accounting practices involving NTI that were recently discovered.
June 7, 2005 |
MAYOR STREET has been celebrating the fourth anniversary of the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. His fifth and last budget for NTI has been submitted and the long-time director is retiring. All the back-patting is causing me a problem. People keep asking for my assessment of NTI, knowing I've been a constant critic. For almost two years, I've resolved to just ignore NTI and let the mayor get away with the charade. But at the risk of losing the feeling of bliss that comes from ignoring things, I've decided to make my own closing remarks on NTI: The emperor has no clothes - and it's not a pretty sight.
February 11, 2003 |
THOSE OF us working on the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) welcome feedback on a project of which we are truly proud. Our minds are open to ways to improve the way we do business. A central theme of NTI is to improve the way government does business. An honest comparison of Philadelphia to other cities would show that the Street administration is engaged in of one of the most sweeping urban-renewal projects in the nation. NTI is about removing the unsightly scars of urban decay confronting Philadelphia and so many other large post-industrial cities, while paving the way for the construction of new and affordable housing, rehabilitation and preservation of many other homes and buildings, and cleaner, safer communities.
March 12, 2004 |
Just over a year ago, the congregation I serve, the Church of the Advocate, and the organization I help lead, Philadelphia Interfaith Action, were pleased to host the unveiling of the city's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. The mayor and his staff presented seven large sites that were slated for redevelopment in the first phase of new housing production in the city. The mayor pledged that more than 2,000 units would be built on sites as varied as Mill Creek, Logan, Brewerytown, Tasker, the Byberry State Hospital site, the Cecil B. Moore home-ownership zone in North Philadelphia, and the Capehart development near the Naval Shipyard.
July 28, 2015 |
Fourteen years after then-Mayor John F. Street launched his signature effort to eliminate blight in Philadelphia, the city has yet to spend the last of the funds set aside for the legacy project. About $38 million remains of the $296 million that was raised in 2001 through a bond sale. The money was intended to fund Street's ambitious Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). Following then-Mayor Ed Rendell's focus on sprucing up Center City and the Avenue of the Arts, Street wanted to have a lasting impact in the city's neighborhoods, especially the blighted ones, by demolishing thousands of vacant buildings and acquiring properties for redevelopment.
March 13, 2004
The 21st century is looking pretty scattershot right now - at least when it comes to Mayor Street's $275 million anti-blight effort called the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. That's one of the conclusions of the 21st Century Review Forum, which Street asked to look at housing and other administration programs. The report's suggestion? Put one person as the overseer of all matters housing and NTI. A good response? Putting Secretary of Housing Kevin Hanna in that role.
October 19, 2009
JUST HOW LONG will taxpayers put up with watching their hard-earned tax money become fuel in the bonfire of government incompetence? We suppose that question has been asked for a few hundred years, but the bonfire always seems to burn a little brighter here than anywhere else. Case in point: A new audit of former Mayor John Street's signature Neighborhood Transformation Initiative reveals a lack of oversight and management that led to an overcommitment of at least $13 million.
August 29, 2002
THE STREET administration has taken issue with a Daily News editorial criticizing the mayor's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative and its slug-like pace. (You can read the administration's position on Page 21.) Since the Street Team isn't receptive to our criticism, perhaps it will accept a gentle suggestion. If the administration is serious about transforming blighted neighborhoods, bringing hope to residents long ignored by Center City interests and repopulating this shrinking city, then it should soon come up with some sensible proposals on where best to build nine new high schools School CEO Paul Vallas has promised the city.
June 27, 2007 |
For the last eight years, the City of Philadelphia has placed a priority on community investment through its Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). The program's successes and failures offer valuable lessons for the next mayoral administration. Neighborhood investment is the best long-term strategy for combating crime, improving our schools, and attracting businesses, jobs, and residents. The need to invest in neighborhoods is clear, but the city should incorporate a different vision and focus.
July 27, 2005 |
Ola Solanke is baffled at why he has not received more help from Mayor Street's $296 million anti-blight program in turning many vacant lots in his Francisville neighborhood in North Philadelphia into an arts center and restaurant. Spurred by the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, Solanke relocated his family in 2001 from Chestnut Hill to the 1500 block of Parrish Street, a blighted area where prostitutes and drug dealers congregated and weeds grew tall. Since then, Solanke said, he has spent a considerable amount of time and about $500,000 of his money to clean up the block and prepare for his project: the Arts Garage.