‘Everything we can possibly do’: Philly nonprofit to finish renovating 40 homes in Strawberry Mansion

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia will fix up a group of homes on the 3200 block of West Huntingdon Street, completing a multi-week effort in the North Philly neighborhood.


Rowhouses in Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Over the next two days, the 3200 block of West Huntingdon Street will buzz with activity as professional contractors and volunteers converge to repair eight homes.

The free renovations are courtesy of Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, a nonprofit that revitalizes more than 100 homes each year, mainly with the help of private donations. The eight rowhouses on West Huntingdon were chosen by Strawberry Mansion CDC, the project’s community partner.

The work is part of a broader effort in the neighborhood that includes a total of 40 homes. It comes at a time when Strawberry Mansion is seeing increasing interest from private real estate developers, a trend raising concerns among residents in the historically Black neighborhood.

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“Not all of our neighborhoods are experiencing the same kind of development pressure that Strawberry Mansion is. But we always are there to try to preserve the homeownership, and the home equity and social mobility that comes with homeownership,” said Stefanie Seldin, president and CEO of Rebuilding Together.

The organization is particularly focused on preserving Black homeownership with the goal of reducing a widening gap between Black and white residents.

Seldin is expecting about 250 volunteers to help complete a variety of tasks. A professional will do any work that requires a permit. Rebuilding Together does roofing, plumbing, electrical work, flooring and painting, among other repairs.

“Everything that we possibly can do within the budget constraints that we have, we’re going to do,” said Seldin.

Rebuilding Together typically invests between $15,000 and $20,000 per home.

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Zobryda Khan is one of the 40 residents in the neighborhood whose home is being renovated through Rebuilding Together. Her home, which she shares with her daughter and two grandchildren, is getting new floors, sheetrock and paint as well as some concrete work on a set of steps in the two-story house — repairs that would have taken her years of saving to get done.

Khan, a bus driver for the School District of Philadelphia, also doesn’t have much free time between work and helping her daughter with child care.

“This program I’m getting is quite a big humongous blessing,” said Khan.

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