East Parkside is Going Green

Jacalyn Clay - Contributing Writer
Posted on Wednesday 20th May 2009
Environmentally friendly homes are providing residents with hope for a revitalized community The growing number of vacant lots and abandoned houses is an ongoing issue that has plagued Philadelphia for years. Both residents and visitors of the area are frustrated with the abundance of abandoned houses and hope for a change. Anna Leo, a resident of Philadelphia, believes that the worst of the abandoned housing is in West Philadelphia. Empty lots in the area have been filling up with trash and litter and the abandoned buildings have become eyesores in the community. “The abandoned houses are really unsafe. Even walking by them makes me nervous. I wish the city would do more to restore the vacant houses and lots, and turn them into something useful,” said Leo. Fortunately, for residents in East Parkside, a community located in West Philadelphia, change has come in the form of environmentally friendly houses or green houses. Robert Cousar has created a program called the East Parkside Community Revitalization Corporation, which aims to rebuild abandoned houses into environmentally friendly homes. One out of every three Parkside lots hosts either vacant homes or nothing at all. There are over 500 empty lots and abandoned homes in East Parkside alone, many located on Viola Street and Leidy Avenue. "These blocks of nothing used to be residential homes," said Cousar. "The residents left, the homes remained, and eventually the city knocked them down. Something was wrong. We're going to rebuild the right way and attract people who will come here, who will care and who will stay.” The green homes that Cousar and his Revitalization Corporation have been building are not only revitalizing the community, they are creating jobs and saving residents loads of cash. “In the area, we’ve had some housing that’s been done and I can factually say that those people showed us bills, the electric bill and the heating bill, that were way under $100 and I just got totally excited about it,” said Ruby Davis, a resident of the area. Residents living in the green houses have been saving a total of $4,500 on utilities yearly. The houses are also soundproof and prepared for any natural disaster. These environmentally friendly homes are complete with bamboo floors, therma-plastic roofing, insulated concrete forms, dual flush toilets and solar panels. Plans to build green houses have been popping up all over the city providing Philadelphians with optimism for renovated neighborhoods. “We’re happy to have given people that have been long-time residents of the community hope that something is actually coming that will benefit them,” said Cousar.

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