December 20, 2017 – Mt. Airy USA

Brad Copeland, Executive Director of Mt. Airy USA, presented the vision 2025 plan of Mt. Airy USA.

The group has been a community development Corporation since the 19 eighties. It was the child of cooperation of East and West Mount Airy Neighbors.

There are 4 core areas: housing counseling and financial literacy (1100 clients per year); real estate development; business services (recent opening of co-working space); and public life programs (e.g., support the local public schools).

The driving force of Mt. Airy 2025 is the notion of “bonds between neighbors”. The planning process began in 2015, based on a large number of committees, study groups, and outside consultants. The actual study area was bounded by Carpenter Lane to Washington Lane and from Stenton Avenue to Wissahickon Avenue. Although this does not include all of what is traditionally called Mount Airy, it includes 22,000 people of the estimated 35,000 in the area.

Results of the survey:

Satisfaction: safety, housing, proximity to public transportation, my neighbors

Dissatisfaction: safety, access to amenities, my neighbors, public schools

Some of these contradictions suggest that one of the key drivers for satisfaction is one’s neighbors. Note that 71% of local residents own their own homes, though recent developments on Germantown Avenue suggest a renewal of interest in rentals, often higher cost rentals.

This has suggested that there are 6 areas to work on: neighbood and commerce; homes and housing; community safety and placemaking; senior living; early childhood education; youth engagement

Brad also pointed out that only 28% of community dollars are spent in the area, whereas a “healthy ratio” would be about 50%. Even though the low ratio is in part a function of easy transportation to employment elsewhere, this also suggests that there is opportunity for new businesses. This is one of the foci of the vision that has been developed.

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