Eight homes in one North Philadelphia neighborhood saw essential health and safety repairs, thanks to a critical partnership.
On Friday, June 3, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, the leading national nonprofit organization that repairs the homes of people in need and revitalizes communities, announced that it has received a $50,000 grant through the Wells Fargo Builds program to complete critical internal and external repairs and enhancements to those homes at no cost.
“Together, Wells Fargo and Rebuilding Together Philadelphia are helping to improve residents’ health and safety inside and outside their homes,” said Stefanie Seldin, President & CEO of Rebuilding Together Philadelphia.
The reparation of homes has proven to pay huge dividends.
According to research from the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn, in Philadelphia when a home receives repairs through a city-funded program, total crime dropped 21.9% on that block.
In addition, as the number of repaired houses on a block increased, instances of crime fell even further.
The 3300 block of Kip Street — a predominantly Latino neighborhood in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia — saw eight homes receive health and safety repairs on June 3, thanks to the new $50,000 grant from Wells Fargo.
“This is one block, one house at a time to make an impact on an incredible community,” said John Zimmerman, regional banking director for Wells Fargo.
Wanda Diaz, who has been a resident of the neighborhood for 12 years, said the neighborhood is a good one, as residents and homeowners do a great job of maintaining and keeping their neighborhood clean.
However, she sees the Rebuilding Together Philadelphia and Wells Fargo partnership as a very positive one.
“It’s good for the neighborhood because it shows that we’re trying to get things fixed and improved,” she told AL DÍA.
This effort on Kip Street is part of a larger national commitment, as the Wells Fargo Foundation is committing $1.3 million to provide critical home repairs to nearly 100 homes in 45 communities across the U.S.
More than 80 Wells Fargo rebuilder volunteers took part in the repair process on Kip Street, which included installing new floors, smoke detectors and grab bars, building planter boxes, painting and more.
“It’s an opportunity to work with Rebuilding Together nationally to identify — not just from a financial standpoint — how we can support them, and also through efforts like this,” Stephen Briggs, Vice President of Community Relations at Wells Fargo, told AL DÍA.
“We’re backing that financial commitment with human capital, as well,” he added.
The repairs are all unique and tailored to the specific needs of the house, as evaluated by an occupational therapist.
Seldin told AL DÍA that Kip Street was, in large part, selected for the home repairs due to Rebuilding Together Philadelphia’s relationship with HACE, the nonprofit community development organization committed to developing economic empowerment in the Latino community.
Maria Nixa Gonzalez, HACE President & CEO, noted that over its 40 years of existence, the organization has leveraged a lot of investment, but there’s still a lot of needs within the community.
“That’s why it’s so important that we continue to cultivate our partnerships, and have partners that really focus on one area of something that we do not do, so that we are able to continue to do the work that we do in other areas in the neighborhood to really improve the quality of life of the people that live here,” she said.
The new grant also aids Wells Fargo in its larger effort to address housing affordability in the region.
“We know that one of the pressure points for housing affordability is the lack of supply,” said Connie Wright, senior vice president of social impact at Wells Fargo.
Therefore, Wells Fargo is working with various nonprofit organizations — including Rebuilding Together — from across the country to help address this.
Since 2010, Wells Fargo has donated more than $17 million to Rebuilding Together and its affiliates nationwide to help support rebuilding efforts across the country.
“They have been really a stalwart and a key stakeholder for us and really cornered the market in terms of repair for homeowners that are in need of safe, sustainable, and healthy housing,” added Wright.
Since its inception in 1988, Rebuilding Together has paired over 2,000 homes across the country.
“We are committed to turning vulnerable owner occupied houses into safe, healthy and energy efficient homes,” said Seldin.