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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Description of the Neighborhood

I got this from a recent proposal submitted by Nueva Esperanza to install an artificial football field in the park for use by Nueva Esperanza Academy, Hunting Park Aztecs, Hunting Park Soccer Association, and (presumably) the rest of the neighborhood. One thing not mentioned in this description is that the park is 97 acres big, and the field is 3.7 acres. So, without further ado:

Hunting Park is a diverse neighborhood comprised of African-American, Puerto Rican and other Hispanic communities, and an increasingly shrinking white population. Located along Philadelphia's North 5th Street corridor, which primarily attracts Hispanic shoppers, 53 percent of its residents are Latino (up 43 percent since 1990); 36 percent are under the age of 18; and 36 percent of the households live below the poverty line. While Hunting park's median household income increased by 18 percent from $19,002 to $22,429 since 1990 it trails Philadelphia's growth during the same time period by nearly 10 percent.

Approximately 1 in 4 households is headed by a single female raising children on her own. Over half of all residents 16 years of age or older are neither employed nor in the labor force. The 25th Police District, which is in our service area, reports a higher percentage of Latino and African American juveniles in jail or on probation than any other district in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Local Health Department statistics indicate that the birth rate for Latinas, who are 12-18 years old, is nearly double than that for the entire city.

Philadelphia School District records show that 43 percent of Latinos drop out of school before 12th grade, higher than for any other ethnic/racial group citywide. Nearly half of Hunting Park's population over age 25 does not have a high school diploma.

Hunting Park lost over 900 housing units or 13.5 percent of its stock since 1990; a reduction caused in large part by the massive demolition of homes in the Logan Triangle area above Roosevelt Boulevard to resolve the large-scale sinking house problem affecting the northern section of the neighborhood in the early 1990's. However, homeownership continues to be a major asset. The neighborhood's housing stock, which consists primarily of row houses built in the 1920's and 1930's, shows signs of wear and tear, but is still very much habitable.

Of the 8,022 housing units, 56 percent are owner-occupied (above the city's average of 53 percent), 33 percent are renter-occupied, and 10 percent are vacant. The current median house value in Hunting Park is $38,400, representing 53 percent of Philadelphia's median price of $72,798. Still, while housing values across the city increased 16 percent between 1990 and 2000, in Hunting Park, the values increased 42 percent from $26,985.

Although our neighborhood has one of the largest contiguous parks in the city, it is not fully utilized as unauthorized parties engage in activities that leave the filed unfit for use by children. Additional factors impacting utilization include: restrooms are not open on weekends, an under-utilized clubhouse, unclear policies and procedures for use of the field and facilities, and limited police presence in the evening and night hours.

North 5th Street, which is four blocks east of the park, is a major north-south arterial that runs through Eastern North Philadelphia. The Hunting Park section of this corridor features commercial establishments, but also some residential dwellings. North 5th Street was once a much stronger hub of commercial activity during the height of Philadelphia's manufacturing days. Recently, however, renewed investment has seen the return of additional commercial activity with new businesses opening along the corridor. There are concentrations of retail stores along certain blocks of North 5th Street and along several of the crossing avenues, as well as a few clusters of industrial sites. The residential section of the neighborhood contains a sprinkling of corner grocery stores, bars, barbershops, hair salons and small distributors, and as noted, a stable housing stock for homeownership.

(Our house is at the arrow.)

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