by Manuel McDonnell Smith
This spring, residents of Overmont House received an unexpected notice from the managers of their beloved apartment building. That it was time for each and every one of the nearly 220 residents to move out.
The buildings’ owners, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) have decided to transform the red brick building on Monument Road, located next to the Channel 6 studios from low-cost senior housing into apartments for students at the school.
For 40 years, Overmont House, originally constructed and built with the use of Federal Housing Finance Funding has provided subsidized and “Section 8” housing for seniors aged 62 and older. Part of the building’s appeal for longtime residents, who are now being forced to move, is that it Overmont is located in a relatively quiet section of West Philadelphia that also provides convenient, walkable access to two shopping centers and multiple bus routes.
“Medical students have a very heavy workload and the school’s leadership determined that having housing on campus would save students travel time and allow more time for study.” said Larry Miller, spokesman for the Overmont Relocation Office. Plans for the buildings’ renovation are not yet complete explained Miller, who said that the school is still reviewing proposals for reconstruction at this time,” but added “Ideally, PCOM would like to open the new building approximately 18 months after Overmont House closes.”
Officials at PCOM, sensitive to the nature of the building’s mostly senior and disabled population have been working to ease the transition for residents. Since the announcement, “relocation specialists” have been on hand to help residents select their next places to live. “Only a few have moved out so far”, says Miller.
The deadline for all residents to vacate the building has been set for April 30, 2017, but through the relocation office program will have the opportunity to have the complete cost of their move paid for by Overmont House management, including packing and unpacking of resident belongings. HUD is also reportedly planning to issue housing vouchers this fall that will allow residents the ability to select from a large variety of apartment buildings in which to move to.
During this interview, the Parkside Journal also inquired about additional development plans that could affect neighbors of the school. “PCOM currently has no additional construction plans for its property”, said Miller, who also added that existing public space on the campus would remain. We also learned that there should not be much concern about effects on traffic and parking from the eventual new residents. “Plans for the student medical housing are not yet complete, but the number of apartments should be very close to the number in the existing building.”
While the college continues to review bids for renovation of the building, other plans remain up for consideration including the incorporation of additional public outdoor amenities and even the name of the building after it is renovated. “No decision has been made regarding the building’s name” said Miller, who added that “it will be up to the winning bidder to design the new building.”