We are doing a Block Build in partnership with the Green Block Build Coalition,” Carrie Rathmann, RTP executive director, said. “Rebuilding Together’s part of this is we do critical repairs including energy efficiency upgrades and home modifications. We also do exterior work that ties all the home repairs together and helps maximize the benefit to the community.”
This was not the first block project RTP worked on in West Philadelphia. Last spring the organization worked with 20 homeowners on Aspen Street, and it will be back over there in March.
In July, RTP began some repairs here on Holly Street, and now it is wrapping up and doing some more projects for the residents.
“Last year, we did about 90 projects over the course of a year, and they are all over the city,” Jen Wootten, RTP administrator and program coordinator, said. “We mostly work in Block Build formats so we’ll do 10 or 12 houses in a concentrated area. We also do select projects. That’s usually an emergency repair where we have a volunteer willing to go out on their own to do something or we have a limited budget, like maybe someone needs a hot water heater. That’s a simple fix we can do.”
Helping homeowners has been RTP’s goal since this local affiliate of the national nonprofit Rebuilding Together Inc. was created in 1998. Robert Bellinger and several graduate students at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania started RTP to make a difference. In their first year of operation, the organization was able to help 10 homeowners. RTP’s vision has always been to create, “a safe and healthy home for every person.” They have been able to do that in increasing numbers every year since the organization was founded.
RTP estimates that 29,057 volunteers have donated 437,376 work hours to make 1,127 home repairs worth an estimated $24.5 million.
One of the ways the group is able to maximize its influence is by taking on repair projects on a block-by-block basis.
“The Block Build really helps us stretch our money further,” Wooten said. “We have one dumpster, one porta potty, maybe one electrician who works in several houses, so it really helps us help more people.”