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Student Research Shows Success for Philadelphia Housing Authority Private Auctioning Strategy

February 9, 2016

In 2011, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), working through a private auctioneer, conducted the first of several auction sales of vacant, “scattered-site” houses and lots. These auctions were the first such sales in the agency’s history.

To assess the current status of  properties sold at these auctions, a team of students from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government joined with those from Penn's School of Design and the Urban Studies Program to research information from a variety of sources during the fall of 2015. This report is a summary of the team’s findings.

The team's most exciting finding was that these auctions produced revenue for PHA, helped stimulate investment in formerly vacant houses and lots, and generated new tax ratables for the City of Philadelphia, among other outcomes. Because these auctions were the first in which large numbers of public agency-owned vacant properties were sold in this manner, the research findings may be helpful to other agencies that are undertaking vacant property disposition activities in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

The team members included Fels second-year students Avivah Tevah, Sarajane Blair, Dana Levin, and Matthew Rappaport; Penn Design students Michael Fichman and Jacqueline Slaby; and John Kromer from Urban Studies. 

A full PDF of the report is available here.

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829

felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu