An archdiocesan agency is expanding its portfolio of affordable senior housing with a new site set for the Eastwick neighborhood of Southwest Philadelphia near the Philadelphia International Airport.

On Feb. 8 Catholic Housing and Community Services (CHCS) broke ground for Father Augustus Tolton Place, an affordable housing community for independent seniors.

The development is named after the Venerable Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897). Born into slavery, he would go on to become the first black Roman Catholic priest in the United States. The cause for Father Tolton’s sainthood was opened in 2011.

>>Photo Feature: Catholic Housing and Community Services breaks ground for Father Augustus Tolton Place

Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre presided over the blessing and groundbreaking ceremony. He was joined by James Amato, Secretary for Catholic Human Services; Heather Huot, Director of CHCS; members of the CHCS Board of Directors; local government officials; project development partners; and community supporters.

Members of the Philadelphia-area Tolton Ambassadors, a group of Catholics dedicated to promoting the Father Tolton’s cause for sainthood, were also in attendance to witness the groundbreaking.

Bishop McIntyre is joined by Tolton Ambassadors of Philadelphia, a Catholic group dedicated to promoting the cause of sainthood of Father Tolton. Venerable Fr. Augustus Tolton is the first widely recognized Black Roman Catholic priest in the U.S.

Father Augustus Tolton Place will be the seventh development of its nature opened by CHCS, which is recognized as a leading provider of senior living services throughout the Philadelphia region.

In her remarks, Heather Huot pointed to the groundbreaking as an opportunity for CHCS “to support older adults and their desire to remain independent in the Eastwick community.”

Designed by PJA Architecture, the complex will ultimately provide 45 units of affordable housing for income-eligible seniors 62 and older.

Features will include a community room, food cupboard, and laundry facilities. CHCS and its partners will offer on-site social services and recreational activities for residents.

James Amato, Secretary for Catholic Human Services says the immediate impact of affordable senior housing directly addresses “poverty, safety, health, mental health, and community building for seniors.” Adding all of this is done “simultaneously.”

To address the need for senior housing, CHCS has traditionally breathed new life into and transformed vacant lots as well as underused parish and school buildings that have served their respective communities for decades.

“This empty lot will begin with a new life as affordable, well designed housing that will help seniors age successfully in the neighborhood they know and love,” said Amato.

Once complete, Father Augustus Tolton Place will bring the archdiocese’s total to 343 affordable housing units developed and managed by CHCS. Additional affordable senior housing projects are on the horizon.

“Father Augustus Tolton Place will stand here as a true symbol of hope and light for Eastwick,” said Huot, “For many decades to come.”

Construction on the $ 17.7 million residence is underway.


For more information on the development and to be added to the inquiry list, contact Catholic Housing and Community Services at 215-587-3663.