History of the Corps

Greg Trainor, Executive Director, learned how to deconstruct buildings in 2006 as an AmeriCorps NCCC Corps Member working for several disaster response organizations in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. In 2009, Greg was struck by the idea that later became the Philadelphia Community Corps after reading “A Prayer for the City” by Buzz Bissinger. With 40,000-60,000 abandoned properties costing the Philadelphia upwards of 20 million annually plus 70 million in noncollectable property taxes, this is clearly a city facing a catastrophic disaster.

Why wasn’t anyone approaching the problem in much the same way disaster response organizations did after a single catastrophic event?

In 2011, Philadelphia Community Corps was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation to formalize the Philly Decon program, revitalizing blighted neighborhoods by deconstructing abandoned buildings. By 2014, job training, tax benefits for property owners and the Philly Reclaim retail experience were added to the business model to ensure exponential growth and long term sustainability for Philadelphia Community Corps.

About the Corps

Mission 1
Impact 2
Vision 3
Opportunity 4

Mission 

The Philadelphia Community Corps provides career training programs that empower underserved citizens to revitalize blighted neighborhoods by deconstructing vacant buildings and salvaging materials for reuse.

Impact 

Trainees gain the skills and experiences necessary to succeed in the deconstruction, material salvage, and other building trade industries. Additionally, they receive OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) certification and an introductory course based on curriculum from the Building Materials Reuse Association. Ultimately, we aim to connect trainees to employment opportunities.

We are able to divert materials from landfills to promote practical and creative reuse by utilizing deconstruction, which is an environmentally friendly alternative to demolition. The process also creates more jobs and less pollution because buildings are taken apart by hand.

Vision 

We aim to utilize deconstruction as an engine for economic growth by creating jobs, removing blight, inspiring community driven neighborhood revitalization, and creating a hub of sustainable reuse.

Opportunity 

There are 40,000 to 60,000 abandoned properties in Philadelphia, that combined take up the entirety of Center City. The city spends over $20 million each year in maintaining these properties, which also accounts for over $70 million in uncollected property taxes. These properties drive away investment, attract crime, and drag down property values city-wide by an estimated $3.6 billion, but there hasn’t been a solution profitable enough —or large enough in scale— to reverse the abandoned housing blight. Previously, the Department of License & Inspections paid demolition contractors to remove about 1,000 blighted structures a year at an average cost of $13,000 per house. In 2012 alone, Philadelphia paid $9.5 million to demolition contractors.

Although there is a large abandoned property problem, Philadelphia Community Corps views this as an opportunity to implement job training programs that provide skills and experiences that prepare people with barriers for employment. Also, it allows the presentation of sustainable deconstruction solutions that are more environmentally friendly, and to re-imagine blight as a resource for materials. Within every abandoned property there is a mountain of bricks and a forest of lumber capable of reuse.

 

Donors, Sponsors and Supporters

A big thank you to everyone who has supported Philadelphia Community Corps. Your gifts have made an impact on the community, the environment and the young men and women who launched successful careers. Our success is your success and we are grateful.

(The listing is in no particular order)

Patricia Kind Family Foundation
Samuel S. Fels Fund
New York Life Insurance
The Union League of Philadelphia
Panther East
Impact Services Corporation

Aaron Levine
Ben Schneible
Bernadette Gillen
Chris & Jill Trainor
Clifton Farr
Danny Kay
Dawn Hosack
Douglas & Susan Trainor
Elizabeth Meenen
Emily Krebs
Geneve Dupuy
George Maynes
German Parra
Gillian Tanz
Ilya Dvilyanski
Jacquelyn Gola
Jason Pantano
Jeffrey George
Jennifer Gola
Joan & John Harrigan
Jose Antonio Marquez Russo
Jose Marquez
Juan Rodriguez
Judith Hartl
Ken & Joan Trainor
Kevin Riccardi
Kyle O’Neill
Lanetta Parks
Lisa Camasi
Martin Sauvalle & Kathy Grant
Marycatherine Baur
Meredith Trainor
Michele Travis
Nathaniel Lownes
Pat Breslin & Emily Brooks
Robert & Danielle Trainor
Robert Bissell
Robert Fallahnejad
Sharon McNeil
Sonia Hijab
Stephanie & Bob Grusczynski
Susan Lister
Susanna Battiston
Tanya Grinblat
Troy Hannigan
Yevgeny Neginsky
as well as several contributors who chose to donate anonymously.