This week in Philadelphia, the 224th and 225th families moved into their new homes at Oxford Green in the Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood in North Philadelphia.
RHLS’s Senior Counsel Judy Berkman has been instrumental to this development. She has worked closely with Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia for many years on all aspects of the Sharswood development. Her involvement started by chance when she saw a two-page Memorandum of Understanding while she was at the Habitat office for a meeting on another matter.
The Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood in North Philadelphia is Habitat Philadelphia’s pilot neighborhood for neighborhood revitalization work. Habitat is the co-convener of a resident-led coalition, and a partner in the broader Sharswood/Blumberg Neighborhood Transformation Plan, led by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA).
The Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood had a high number of vacant lots and properties. The goal of the Housing Plan in the Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood is to transform the local distressed housing and vacant land into energy-efficient, mixed-income, and affordable housing. PHA provided the land and $3.5 million in funding, most of which is in the form of purchase price subsidy loans to the buyers.
Habitat for Humanity makes significant contributions to homeownership for individuals who would otherwise lack access. Homeownership is one of the most important ways to build wealth for a family and a community. RHLS is proud to partner with Habitat for this vital racial equity work that presents the Black community with homeownership opportunities.
As the homes continue to be built, Judy’s work with Habitat also continued. She has presented at Habitat workshops to explain the Agreement of Sale package and the loan documents. Since the onset of COVID-19, Judy misses meeting the buyers in person at the settlement table and seeing the joy on their faces to become homeowners after overcoming a variety of challenges to arrive at this moment.
The Sharswood Development proved very useful in her work over the years to standardize Request For Proposals and contracts, up to and including COVID-19 work protection guidelines. This work is one of the many ways in which Judy has made significant contributions to homeownership in Philadelphia through her work at RHLS.
photo by Ellie Seif.