Strength in Numbers: Non-Profit to Rehabilitate Eight Homes in One Day
As the old adage goes: there’s strength in numbers.
A non-profit called Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTP) is putting that expression into use on October 16 and 17, when it will gather a few hundred skilled students, community member, corporate partners and volunteers to bring some much-needed improvements and repairs to homes on the 2000 and 2100 block of North Franklin Street in North Philadelphia.
Utilizing what RTP calls the “Block Build” approach, the group of helpers will actually be able to tackle the rehabilitation of eight homes in a single day, and 13 over the two-day period.
It’s a win-win for all parties involved, as low-income homeowners, many of whom are elderly, disabled, families with children, or veterans, receive some much-needed repairs or renovations to ensure their home is safe and comfortable. In turn, RTP provides an opportunity for students at local vo-tech schools to take what they’re learning in the classroom and apply it in real-life situations in order to benefit the greater good of their community.
Their to-do list is incredibly impressive:
“Ten students from A. Philip Randolph Career & Technical High School will be performing a variety of tasks including repairing drywall and plaster, installing new vinyl floors in kitchens and bathrooms, and installing new front door locksets. Eight students from Thomas Alva Edison High School and John C. Fareira Skills Center will be doing HVAC maintenance and cleaning in eight houses. Fifteen students from Project WoW will be caulking and painting front windows in basements, installing new vinyl floors in breakfast rooms and bathrooms, and repairing plaster and drywall in kitchens and bathrooms.”
Given that we’re not too handy when it comes to home improvement skills, we’d probably fit well on the “weatherization team,” a group that helps each home become more energy efficient by running through some of the easier energy (and cost) saving maintenance. That might include caulking any gaps, weather stripping to prevent drafts, patching exterior holes and installing hot water heater blankets.
Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, a Latino-based health, human services, community and economic development non-profit organization serving the Philadelphia area, is Rebuilding Together Philadelphia’s community partner in the Block Build. The group recently developed Paseo Verde, a nearby mixed-use, mixed-income complex located adjacent to the Temple University regional rail stop, and it was named “Project of the Year” by the U.S Green Building Council in August.
“The neighborhood of Eastern North is facing increased development,” said Rebuilding Together Philadelphia Executive Director Stefanie F. Seldin in a press release. “Rebuilding Together Philadelphia loves to work in this North Philadelphia neighborhood to ensure that long-term owners won’t be displaced by gentrification and can take advantage of increased home values. RTP’s repair work will ensure this neighborhood stays economically diverse.”
Finally, RTP has an extensive checklist for each homes that evaluates 22 “Health and Safety Goals,” which they established in collaboration with the National Center for Healthy Housing.
This rundown ensures that each home receives the necessary repairs and includes checking for working appliances, functional bathroom, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, adequate lighting, and searching for tripping hazards to eliminate. And, according to the press release, that’s just the half of it:
“Some of the work involves ensuring that the home is free of water leaks and rainwater is directed away from the home, electrical systems meet code, porches and any other elevated areas have secure handrails and railings, and sealing any gaps, cracks or holes in exterior walls. RTP also applies pest extermination if needed.”
Feeling inspired to help out and get get in on some Block Build action? Unfortunately, this one is all booked up, but you can still get on the mailing list for the next build, which a rep tells us is going to happen in the spring.