The Philadelphia Community Corps is a nonprofit job training, deconstruction, and material salvage organization.
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.
We provide entry level job training in the building deconstruction and material salvage industry for individuals facing barriers to employment. Trainees receive on-site experience and in-class lessons that prepare them for meaningful careers.
Through our projects we prepare buildings for renovation or removal while salvaging items for reuse or recycling. We also operate a Building Materials Reuse Center to provide access to affordable materials and save our architectural history!
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.
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.
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.
Greg 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. Greg had the idea that became the Philadelphia Community Corps in 2009 as a journalism intern for the Philadelphia Inquirer assigned to read “A Prayer for the City” by Buzz Bissinger. While reading about the abandoned housing blight, he realized that what Philadelphia needs is an organization that can go through blighted neighborhoods clearing the abandoned housing out, much the same way the disaster response organizations he worked for in the Gulf Coast did.
In 2011, Greg incorporated the Philadelphia Community Corps as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation to revitalize blighted neighborhoods by deconstructing abandoned buildings, but put the organization on hiatus in 2012 to create a more sustainable business model.
In September 2014, Greg launched the Philadelphia Community Corps for the third time as a job training program and it has been growing exponentially ever since.
The Philadelphia Community Corps is a nonprofit organization as designated by Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code