By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There was a soul-stirring celebration today in North Philadelphia as Project HOME cut the ribbon on the $16 million affordable housing project built in partnership with a non-profit founded by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.
It was a celebration with soul.
As 55 formerly homeless, low income and teen residents prepare to move into the four-story JBJ Soul Homes at the corner of 15th and Fairmount.
“I’m finally going to have a place that I could call my home,” says Jerome Maynard, 22.
Maynard’s been on his own since he turned 18 and spent much of that time without couch surfing, without a stable place to call home.
Estranged from family, he says JBJ Soul homes means he can finally focus on school at Community College of Philadelphia and his dreams for the future.
“I’m just thankful for that,” says Maynard who spent time at Covenant House and hopes to be a sports analyst one day.
JBJ Soul Homes comes thanks to tax credits, as well as public and private funding. The lead private gifts came from the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, Leigh and John Middleton and Elizabeth Moran.
Jon Bon Jovi spoke at the ribbon-cutting, challenging the residents to see the new housing as an opportunity and asked them to pay it forward.
“Make those who came together to provide these walls proud,” he says, “by proving to anyone and everyone that a hand up is not a hand out and opportunity given is opportunity received. Let’s make a record of what we accomplish within these walls.”
Project HOME will be on site, offering services to residents.
Sister Mary Scullion says the Project HOME recognizes the severe need for affordable housing in Philadelphia and has plans for more.
“Project HOME is committed to developing an additional 400 units of Affordable Housing,” she says, “we see this really as a great opportunity to help end homelessness in Philadelphia.”