Lancaster Avenue on road to recovery
WEST PHILADELPHIA - March 27, 2012 (WPVI) -- Kijuan Page and his cousin strolled along the 4100 block of Lancaster Avenue today, his old stomping grounds.
He now lives in New York City.
His fresh eyes see a great deal of progress on the busy corridor that fell on hard times.
"New businesses and streets are clean, much safer than it used to be," Page said.
Much of the credit goes to an agency called the People's Emergency Center (PEC) which is dedicated to improving this corridor and surrounding neighborhoods in areas like housing, education, economic revitalization and job creation.
In a section of town full of eyesores, new and rehabbed homes are being sold; new facades are part of a beautification process.
21 new businesses are open, as well as four social service agencies, which feature computer training classes for local residents.
"We've also built and developed centers for employment and training, a center for parenting and early childhood education, and a center for digital inclusion and technology," Farah Jiminez of PEC said.
"We have transformed 120 blighted properties into more than 250 units of affordable housing," Kira Strong of PEC said.
Also being hailed was Wells Fargo, the trillion dollar banking and finance giant, which announced a new grant of $670,000. The bank's grants have helped PEC leverage millions in the last 25 years.
"Year by year, things are being improved. On my block, there's some new homes being built where was a vacant lot for some 20 years," longtime resident Tim Davis said.
But there's a long way to go.
Stephanie Tucker, a director of a GED study center on the street, told Action News what can be found at a yard where children from a daycare are forced to play.
"Needles, condoms, dead animals, broken glass," Tucker said.
The economic decline of Lancaster Avenue started in the 1960s.
Reversing 50 years of that erosion process will take lots of time and resources and lots of patience, but it is starting to take root. The challenges are enormous.
philadelphia, west philadelphia, local/state, vernon odom
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