Brotherly Love: Rebuilding Together on a Philly Block

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–A Philadelphia organization is making it easier for people to stay in their homes even if they can’t afford expensive repairs. It organizes an army of volunteers to swoop in and spruce up.

Instead of fixing one house at a time, volunteers fix multiple houses in the same neighborhood all at once. They call it a block build.

We were there as carpet was carted out and floors were getting fixed at Titania Boddie’s home. It was a relief to her and her son.

“They’re taking up carpet and putting down floors to help him with his asthma,” Titania said.

Across the street, Titania’s neighbors, Diane and Myron Armstead-Brown, are also getting some welcome work done after suffering years of water leaks.

“Water’s very damaging,” Diane said. “I had no idea. And costly.”

All the work is free. The volunteers was organized by the non-profit Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. They help fix up houses of low-income homeowners. Stefanie Seldin is executive director.

“Every repair is to make the homeowner healthier, safer, and save energy,” Stefanie said.

On this day, 85 volunteers worked on eight houses on the same block. They can spend several days working.

Titania said, “So far I’ve gotten a lot of work done to the home. I’ve gotten electrical work, roof repairs. I’ve gotten plumbing repairs done.”

The volunteers pay special attention to floors.

“The reason that Rebuilding Together Philadelphia focuses on redoing floors is because they can be real tripping hazards,” Stefanie said.

Homeowners are often able to work side by side with volunteers, so they pick up home maintenance skills.

“It’s a learning experience for me also,” Myron said, “and it will help me maintain the house once it’s done.”

Volunteer Bill Wilken loves offering his help. “My house is built in 1910, so my wife and I have done a lot of work on the house,” Bill said. “And when we finally got ‘done,’ figured I might as well help other people with it.”

An estimated 1,000 volunteers fix about 75 homes a year through Rebuilding Together Philadelphia.

“We think they’re special people,” Myron said. “It takes a lot to do work that you’re not going to be paid for.”

The organization says the average amount of free work in each house would cost $10,000.

To learn more about Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, CLICK HERE.

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