PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Oct. 5, 2006) – In a city with such a storied past, Philadelphia-based Project H.O.M.E. and Habitat for Humanity are helping local families make some history of their own. Announced at a Thursday afternoon press conference, the relationship stems from the efforts of many and particularly from the commitment of recording artist Jon Bon Jovi and his co-owned Arena Football League team, the Philadelphia Soul.
The first phase in the collaboration—called The Phase V Homeownership Project—will result in 15 rehabilitated row houses on the city’s north side, where many of the existing homes now lie vacant with crumbling corners, boarded up or broken windows. Former President Bill Clinton was on hand to help celebrate the announcement and commend the collaborative effort to create better communities—and to bring new life to blighted neighborhoods.
“There will always be a gap between where we are and where we want to be,” Clinton said, referring to poverty in the world and the efforts to combat it. “So it’s up to all of us … to step in and fill that gap.” He said that is precisely what this newly formed partnership—and all of the many people involved with it—is doing.
Since 1988, Project H.O.M.E. has been working to rebuild Philadelphia’s neighborhoods through a holistic development approach, which accounts for housing, but also for health care, education and job training. While Habitat remains focused on housing—as manifested in the Habitat houses built over the last 20 years by affiliates in Philadelphia—its interest lies in thoroughly transforming lives, realizing that housing is one part of a much larger whole.
And, according to Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford, “That’s what makes this such a special partnership: Our missions and interests are very closely aligned. This kind of collaboration is exactly what we need to replicate in so many cities across the country and around the world in order to serve an ever-increasing number of families.”
The Phase V Homeownership Project focuses on two blocks of historically significant, deteriorated row houses in North Central Philadelphia. By employing “green building strategies,” Phase V will renovate existing structures into energy-efficient homes containing Energy Star-rated appliances. In addition, reducing block density and developing side yards in the area all are significant steps toward promoting long-term health, safety, and affordability for owners.
Jon Bon Jovi has been involved with Habitat for Humanity for more than a year, having worked with HFH Philadelphia on three duplexes in the city—also the setting in which he recorded the video for his No. 1 hit single “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” Bon Jovi also has funded nearly 30 homes in Katrina-ravaged Louisiana through a contribution to Oprah Winfrey’s Angel’s Network.
As further means of recognizing Bon Jovi’s support of and passion for Habitat’s mission, Reckford announced Thursday that the singer, songwriter and philanthropist will be the founding ambassador in Habitat for Humanity’s new Ambassadors Program. As ambassadors blend their high profile with their Habitat involvement, they will help raise awareness of both the need for and the work of Habitat for Humanity and its many partners around the world.
Habitat’s first ambassador already has done much more than that, and the relationship he cultivates with both Habitat for Humanity and Project H.O.M.E. is a strong measure of his commitment to improving lives.
“One of the greatest social goods is helping people take responsibility for themselves,” Bon Jovi said. “And I truly believe we can do that … working together … one soul at a time.”