By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group that provides supportive services to the homeless has opened a new housing project exclusively for local artists in West Philadelphia.

Poettica Bey could barely contain herself as she got her first look at one of the units at 4050 Apartments. She’s moving in with her husband, Mahdi Sufi El.

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“This is beyond exciting, I’m dressed in my regalia as you can see. I came like a full Moorish, like I’m about to go the Mummers Parade or something,” he said. “This is a high honor. I’ve been an artist all my life and now it’s enjoyable to be in the building.”

The block-long, three-story building at 40th Street and Haverford Avenue now houses tenants in 20 low-income units and becomes, in effect, a self-contained artists community. Kathy Desmond, President of People’s Emergency Center, sees it as a reflection of the community.

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“If you look at the history of West Philadelphia, it used to be very rich in art and jazz and dance,” she said. “Philadanco is in this part of the city, and so, yeah, we wanted to bring back some of the heritage.”

PEC planners also wanted to make sure the artists would not be squeezed out by higher priced housing that’s accompanying the westward movement of Penn and Drexel.

Tenants rent is one-third of their income under the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s affordable housing program.

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“This part of Philadelphia is the second largest area in the city for artists,” Desmond said, “and so our neighbors, really, when we were doing our community planning process a few years ago, really identified housing for artists as a wish.”