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August 23, 2014, 3:28 am

One city, building a healthy neighborhood

The city of Philadelphia has occupied a central place in American history and culture. From the arts to our world-class institutions of higher learning, to the magnificence of our medical community, this great city has contributed so much to our nation. But our work remains unfinished.

The city has made great strides in focusing efforts and resources on the renewal of our neighborhoods. Kensington, along the Frankford Avenue corridor between East Kensington and Norris Square, once experienced blight and disinvestment, but is now becoming a bustling commercial center.

Nevertheless, poverty threatens the health, prosperity and welfare of neighborhoods across the city. Progress can only be made if we are able to work together: government agencies, corporate investors, the nonprofit community and ordinary citizens.

This week in Philadelphia, Rebuilding Together will rehabilitate thirty homes, install a new playground, and perform extensive work on the Overbrook Environmental Education Center. Many residents of the Overbrook neighborhood have worked their entire lives to own a home but have struggled like so many others in recent years due to our faltering economy. With limited disposable income, many lack the means to make the necessary repairs or upgrades to their homes.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has tracked the trend in its annual report, “Philadelphia State of the City 2012,” noting that “the percentage of people living in poverty in Philadelphia rose … to 26.7 percent in 2010, one of the highest among all major U.S. cities.”

Rebuilding Together’s Building a Healthy Neighborhood and Philadelphia’s current leaders next week will hold a three-day community rebuilding event that engages the community. We recognize that now is the time for action. As new generations come to Philadelphia, Rebuilding Together will work to preserve what defines a community, while also providing upgrades to foster development and strength.

In Pew’s recent report, “Philadelphia State of the City 2012,” researchers noted: “One positive sign for the city’s future is that the number of young adults in Philadelphia has risen substantially in recent years. The question is whether those young people will find the place attractive enough to stay.”

Building a Healthy Neighborhood will help convince young Philadelphians to stay. It will not only preserve what exists but also will build promise for the future. In short, Building a Healthy Neighborhood will help the present generation work to meet the longstanding challenge of poverty that Philadelphia has faced.

Together, Rebuilding Together and the City of Philadelphia reject the notion that the problems of today are tomorrow’s worries. We can make it better today, so the Philadelphians of tomorrow will enjoy the benefits.


Mayor Michael A. Nutter

Gary A. Officer, president and CEO, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia

Carrie Rathmann, executive director, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia