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Green Block Build Collaborative Gives Mantua Block a Sustainable Facelift: Open House Saturday!

March 30, 2012

Please join us for the Green Block Build Open House!

Who: Join Congressman Chaka Fattah, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Katherine Gajewski, the City of Philadelphia’s Director of Sustainability, block residents, and representatives from the Green Block Build Collaborative’s agencies as they speak about this project.

What: Tour the houses to see the weatherizations and improvements in progress, meet the partners, learn more about healthy homes, hear local leaders and residents speak.

When: Saturday, March 31, 2012, 10:00a.m.- 12:00p.m.


If it’s raining:

Mantua Community Improvement Committe building, 619 N. 35th Street  – between Mt. Vernon and Haverford.

If it’s not Raining:

3800 block of Aspen Street, Philadelphia, PA (in West Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood).


For Immediate Release:

Jamie Gauthier, Program Officer, Philadelphia LISC, 215-923-3801 x. 14

Philadelphia–A coalition of community organizations and more than 300 volunteers are providing home improvements and greening to the 3800 block of Aspen Street in Mantua. A Green Block Party Open House on March 31 will bring volunteers and vendors to the block that will provide critical repairs to 20 homeowners on the block, while greening and beautifying the block as a whole. The program will also educate homeowners about how to make their homes healthier and more energy efficient.

The project is carried out by the Green Block Build Collaborative, a coalition of community organizations including Philadelphia LISC, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, The Partnership CDC, and a wide variety of other community partners. It is supported by Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania.

The Green Block Build Program developed from LISC’s Sustainable Communities Initiative in West Philadelphia (SCI-West), a comprehensive community development effort focused on housing, income and employment, economic opportunity, education, and health. The Green Block Build strategy is to improve the health and wealth of low-income households, block-by-block, house-by-house by building on the strengths of each partner organization. Participating blocks receive education and a suite of products and services designed to help each participant transition to a healthier life and home.

Barbara Hall, the captain of the 3800 block of Aspen Street recognizes the impact of this project. Her family has lived in her house on the block for 67 years. Several years ago, she paid a roofer to install a new roof on the home. The first time it rained, she realized that the roofer had taken advantage of her; the leaky roof caused significant water damage throughout the home, and her basement and kitchen were crumbling around her.

“Lord have mercy, we’ll enjoy living in our neighborhood again!” said Hall, when she learned about the Green Block Build Program, “This has given me so much hope.”

The Green Block Party idea grew out of a desire to address the interrelated issues of poverty and sustainability. Low-income households in the U.S. spend 17% of income on energy bills, 10% higher than the national average. Simple home weatherization improvements can dramatically reduce this number, saving low-income families money while reducing their environmental impact. The concept has grown into the full Green Block Build Program, which takes the fundamental components of the Green Block Party, and integrates critical home repairs that further help homeowners meet these goals.

Each home on the block will receive multiple critical repairs or energy efficiency upgrades, energy assessments, education around home health issues, and financial education. Other home improvements include the installation of green and cool roofs, rain barrel installation, the removal of allergy and asthma triggers such as mold and dampness, weatherization improvements, and overall greening. The projects will be tailored to specifically meet the needs of each homeowner. For example, one homeowner with physical handicaps will receive repairs to his home that make the bathroom, backyard, and other rooms more handicap-accessible.

Each of the community partners in the collaborative is bringing different skills and resources to the program.

“One of the key things we were aiming for with this project is showing the amount of impact that each partner organization’s services and efforts could have on a household, on a block, and on a community if they were connected and coordinated. We have seen the benefits of collaboration in this community through our SCI-West work, and I am truly excited about the potential of this project,” said Jamie Gauthier, Program Officer at Philadelphia LISC.

Once the renovations are complete, Drexel University will conduct an analysis of the program’s impact, which will help spread this model for improvements and shape the strategic direction of the collaborative.

“These are things that can help you in the long run. If you’re part of the community and they’re building it up, you can take pride in where you are living,” said Patricia Rozier, another block resident, “We are going to maintain our block, trust me.”


About the Partners:

Philadelphia LISC’s Sustainable Communities Initiative was born out of a realization that healthy communities are not just made of bricks and mortar. They also require a strong foundation of communal respect and action, safe and secure families, a skilled workforce, and numerous other quality-of-life measures like hope and faith in the future. Beginning in 2006, Philadelphia LISC embraced a new strategic plan that emphasized comprehensive, cooperative action over transaction- and organization-focused models of the past. The underlying concept behind our Sustainable Communities Initiative is to concentrate efforts in particular neighborhoods, building local coalitions that work across traditional programmatic and organizational boundaries to try to create a critical mass for sustainable growth and development. We partner with local community development corporations and other neighborhood nonprofits to first create a common vision and work plan for the target area, and then to implement it.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is dedicated to helping community residents transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity — good places to work, do business and raise children. LISC mobilizes corporate, government and philanthropic support to provide local community development organizations with loans, grants and equity investments. LISC also provides local, statewide and national policy support, and technical and management assistance. LISC is a national organization with a community focus. Our program staff collaborate with local community development groups, delivering the most appropriate support to meet local needs.

The Partnership Community Development Corporation develops affordable, for-sale and rental housing for low to moderate-income families in Philadelphia County, and provides home ownership education to first-time home buyers.

We work to retain and attract businesses in West Philadelphia, allowing our communities to be economically independent and viable. The Partnership CDC also undertakes retail development, organizes business associations, provides technical assistance to businesses and community groups and formulates revitalization strategies for commercial corridors.

Drexel University’s mission is to serve our students and society through comprehensive integrated academic offerings enhanced by technology, co-operative education, and clinical practice in an urban setting, with global outreach embracing research, scholarly activities, and community initiatives. Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Drexel is a top-ranked, comprehensive university recognized for its focus on experiential learning through co-operative education, its commitment to cutting-edge academic technology and its growing enterprise of use-inspired research.

People’s Emergency Center nurtures families, strengthens neighborhoods, and drives change. PEC is committed to increasing equity and opportunity throughout our entire community. We provide comprehensive supportive services to homeless women and their children, revitalize our West Philadelphia neighborhood, and advocate for social justice. Through its CDC, PEC provides an array of neighborhood preservation, community building, technology, and commercial development projects. On Lancaster Avenue, the neighborhood commercial corridor, PEC has attracted new businesses, improved commercial facades, and enhanced the streetscape.

The mission of the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) is to help people conserve energy and to promote a sustainable and socially equitable energy future for all in the Philadelphia region. ECA is a large provider energy of efficiency services and job training services, thus filling a critical role in the region.

Mantua Community Improvement Committee was formed in 2000 as a vehicle to keep the streets of Mantua clean and safe. Since its inception, it has cleaned away literally thousands of pounds of trash and weeds from vacant lots, and off the streets. MCIC is also committed to improving the overall quality of life in the community and to employing as many Mantua residents as possible. Founded by Rick Young on a philosophy of self-help and self–determination MCIC is looking forward to many more years of growth and expansion as it fulfills its mission of helping to maintain a healthy, safe, and clean community for the residents of Mantua.

 Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is a local, independent affiliate of a national network focused on preserving affordable homeownership using volunteer resources. RTP concentrates much of its work in West Philadelphia, Germantown, and North Philadelphia. Through its critical home repair projects, including energy efficiency upgrades, as well as its safe and healthy home projects, RTP has helped over 1,050 low-income homeowners and over 45 community agencies since its founding in 1988.

 Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) is housed at The Partnership CDC in West Philadelphia. We guide people to city services. We create opportunities for citizens to have a voice in what happens in their communities. The Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), is an interactive information and service center that is funded by the Office of Housing and Community Development. There are four NAC’s in West and Southwest Philadelphia. NAC has been operating in Philadelphia for almost 35 years.



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