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EPA Grant Helps Livable Neighborhoods Thrive in Philadelphia

Release Date: 11/7/2002
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – Community action efforts here got a boost today with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, Donald S. Welsh, presented a check for $50,000 to City Managing Director Estelle Richman to assist in the City’s Livable Neighborhood program at a ceremony this morning at the Nicetown Community Development Corporation in the Nicetown neighborhood. Community leaders, block captains and neighbors attended along with Pennsylvania State Sen.Shirley M. Kitchen, State Representative Jewell Williams, and David Gershon, director of the Empowerment Institute.

“The Livable Neighborhood program is a shining example of how local communities and government agencies can be partners in creating and keeping healthy and vibrant neighborhoods,” said Welsh.

“Imagine how different our world would be if we all helped to keep the environment clean and safe for each new generation. We can make these images a reality in the communities that we live in by working together, neighbor with neighbor, with the Livable Neighborhood program," said Sen. Kitchen.

The Livable Neighborhood program promotes conservation and quality of life in neighborhoods by improving health and safety through lead poisoning education, reducing home and garden toxic chemicals use, energy conservation, and creating personal and neighborhood emergency preparedness plans. The program also includes greening and beautification – tree planting, neighborhood gardens, and street and alley cleanups. An easy to use book help guide the teams.

All of these activities help in building stronger neighborhoods by having neighbors assess what they want and accomplishing it together. The Livable Neighborhood program has a relationship with city services, so if a car is abandoned and needs to be removed, or trees need trimming, the city responds. At other times, teams may receive needed services donated from the private sector.

“The Livable Neighborhood program matches existing City services with those aspirations of citizens working together,” said Managing Director Richman. “Government can only work, if it works with people."

Teams form crime watches to make their neighborhoods safer. Some set up car-pools, while others have created local food cooperatives or invested in community supported agriculture. Neighborhood welcome wagons for new residents and annual block parties are also ways in which teams keep neighbors in touch.

The Livable Neighborhood program evolved from the Sustainable Lifestyle Campaign, which was launched in Philadelphia in 2000. EPA was a founding partner in that effort with
Sen. Kitchen, who spearheaded its creation. The Livable Neighborhood program was introduced in 2001. EPA continues to be a major supporter of the program and is a funding partner with the City of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Pennsylvania.

There are currently 26 Livable Neighborhood program teams in eight different areas of the city, including Nicetown; West Philadelphia; Germantown; North Philadelphia; West Oak Lane; Olney; South Philadelphia; and Haddington. Funds from this grant will help in developing 10 additional teams. The goal is to create a total of 60 neighborhood teams by 2004.

Philadelphia is one of four municipalities that have embraced the Livable Neighborhood program. The other municipalities are: Kansas City, Missouri; Madison, Wisconsin; and Highland, New York.

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