At one ribbon-cutting event, a resident of one of the homes approached Cousar. She told him that she felt guilty that her neighbors were paying so much more for their utilities. She explained that because her utilities bill for the month of January was just $50, she was able to send her daughter back to college.
“The proof is in the pudding,” Cousar said. “The [residents] have consistently had significantly lower utilities bills.”
Getting to this point was not always easy, he said.
“It was very challenging because we were told it couldn’t be done,” Cousar said. “When we started down the green path, green was a color to most people … We were constantly told that you couldn’t do it in the inner city. My question was why not?”
Cousar said that other groups have since replicated this model for green, sustainable, inner-city housing in cities including Chicago and Detroit and that he is optimistic for the future success of such development in Philadelphia.
“We’re just now coming back around financially to get back on track and continue development with pretty significant projects that are coming over the next couple of years,” he said.
“All we can say is you haven’t seen anything yet.”
Christine Fisher and Kara Savidge bring Eyes on the Street and PlanPhilly dispatches from Mantua, Parkside, and throughout Philadelphia as part of their work for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a publication of Temple's Multimedia Reporting Lab. PlanPhilly is a partner in this project, so expect to see stories from other Philadelphia Neighborhoods as well.