Marc Stier

Democrat for State Representative

Working Together to Build Strong Communities

Housing Rehabilitation, the Quality of Life, Jobs, and the future of Philadelphia

As I have been walking the district I have seen a problem that is just heart wrenching. Most of the blocks in this district are basically strong. Ninety percent of the people on the block work hard at steady jobs, take care of their children, and do their best to keep the houses they own or rent in good shape. But on almost every block there are one, two, or three houses that create problems for the whole neighborhood. Some of these houses are in a terrible state of disrepair and attract residents with serious personal problems. Others have been sealed are home only to vermin. Many of them have unkempt yards that are full unkempt and full of litter. Still other houses have been taken over by people who use them to sell drugs or conduct other illicit business.

These houses are dispiriting and dangerous for everyone who lives on the block. The problems they create must be addressed in a coordinated way. Every relevant arm of the city and state has to be brought in to solve this problem.

The first task is to rid these houses of immediate dangers. If they are falling down—and perhaps taking neighboring houses with them—they need to be shored up. If they are unfit for human habitation they must be sealed. And if their yards are filthy, they must be cleaned.

But band-aids are not enough. We need to rehabilitate these problem houses. Most of these houses are in good structural condition and retain much of the character and charm that makes the housing stock in Philadelphia so special. No one is making houses like the single family, twin, and row houses of Philadelphia any more. Even the best new construction one finds today does not have the quality and workmanship of most of the houses in our district. I know this, because I have seen them, inside and out, with my own eyes.

More people will want to live in our city and district if we can rehabilitate the problem houses and, in doing so, dramatically improve the quality of life in the blocks and neighborhoods in which they are found.

And, in the process of rehabilitating these houses, we can provide jobs for the residents of our neighborhoods and training opportunities for our young people.

There is much work being done on this problem. If elected your state representative, I will support existing Community Development Corporations (CDCs) in their efforts to rehabilitate our housing stock and provide jobs for our residents. And, I will help residents start new CDCs ones in areas that are not now served by them. I will work to find the resources we need to do this job. I will seek out small, minority owned construction companies to do this work, and encourage them to hire and train young people for this work. I will also work to find resources for housing counseling so that more of our residents can become homeowners.

The Mayor’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative has made a start in this direction. However, I am afraid that there has been too much demolition of our housing stock and not enough rehabilitation. In the 198th district people don’t need or want our wonderful housing stock and close knit neighborhoods to be demolished. In Logan, Nicetown, Tioga, Germantown, and Mt. Airy, they want to rebuild our blocks and neighborhoods house by house.