NE native Joe DeFelice, of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, toured local neighborhoods to see how each have developed.
Joe DeFelice visited local businesses and organizations in Tacony, Mayfair and Frankford, but for what feels like the first time in a while, it was for work, and not because he lives in the area.
DeFelice is the former head of the Philadelphia Republican Party and was appointed to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by President Donald Trump. He is the HUD Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator and oversees the third region, which includes Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.
Because of the wide area, he said he rarely gets to visit the Northeast for work.
“I’ve been highlighting my entire region, so this was an opportunity for me to go into Northeast Philly and see three different neighborhoods that are completely unique from one another,” he said to the Times.
On April 3, he toured the three neighborhoods with members of his staff. He said he wanted to see firsthand how the neighborhoods each addressed some overlapping problems, and possibly apply local strategies on a federal level to other areas in his region.
“It’s out-of-the-box thinking,” he said. “What you see is three different neighborhoods that are doing things differently, but are all seeing amazing results.”
DeFelice met with Frankford CDC Executive Director Kimberly Washington, Tacony CDC Executive Director Alex Balloon and Mayfair Business Improvement District Executive Director Marc Collazzo. Each took him on a walk in their neighborhoods and gave presentations on problems the communities faced, and how they were addressing them.
For example, Balloon talked about the Building the New Tacony revitalization program, which added 60 security cameras, planted 52 trees and established Small Business Saturday in 2014, among other successes.
After each presentation, DeFelice went on a walk around the area to visit successful local businesses, view artwork and get a feel for each community.
“They’re all building in their own way from the bottom up,” he said.
DeFelice admitted he himself was not an “art guy,” but that art could play a big role in attracting people to places. He commended the role arts played in all areas, and expressed excitement about all of the new places to eat that were popping up in the area.
“People come to places for the art, then notice all the great businesses around and say wait a minute, maybe I want to stay here,” he said. ••
To see more photos from Nika Edwards, click here.