By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A long-abandoned and blighted school in North Philadelphia’s Poplar neighborhood has been reborn as housing for low and moderate-income residents and homeless veterans.

The former Spring Garden Elementary is now the Lural Lee Blevins Veterans Center. City officials gathered Friday to cut the ribbon in honor of Veterans Day.

The art deco building holds 37 units, 12 reserved for homeless veterans, with wrap around services to keep them housed.

Architect George Marx says the old school is an ideal platform.

“A typical classroom was between 600-800 square feet and it makes the perfect size to make a one-bedroom apartment,” Marx said.

Marx designed the space for HELP USA, which worked with the Public Housing Authority to convert the building, with the help of historic preservation tax credits.

This is HELP USA’s fifth such project in Philadelphia, and a sixth is in the planning stages in the shuttered Reynolds School, though the organization’s housing officer David Cleghorn says that could be jeopardized by the GOP tax plan.

“If we lose the historic tax credit, we’ll have a $3 million gap on that project and it won’t work,” he said.

In the meantime, Cleghorn is celebrating the Blevins center, named in honor of a Philadelphia man killed in Vietnam while protecting his platoon.

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