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Friday, March 30, 2007

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY'S EFFORT TO TRANSFORM A BOSTON NEIGHBORHOOD

Steve Bailey's column in this morning’s Boston Globe (Urban terrorists) in part mentions the work that Habitat for Humanity (www.habitatboston.org) is doing in the heart of the city where an alarming rate of violence is occurring, due partly to the increasing economic divide among rich and poor communities. Bailey mentions that Habitat has already raised about $2 million to build 22 condominiums and retail space on Blue Hill Avenue on Intervale Street, writing that the project “is exactly what a neighborhood like this needs.”

But the Habitat project on Blue Hill Avenue, which is about half-finished, is still about $2 million short of the money it needs to complete the project. “Any good corporate citizen looking for a way to make a difference need look no further,” writes Bailey.

This afternoon I spoke with Bruce Percelay, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Greater Boston’s Habitat for Humanity. He told me that the half a city block that Habitat purchased to build on from the City of Boston is the same one that burned down the night that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in 1968. It has been vacant ever since, until Habitat came in to build.


Percelay says that the model that Habitat for Humanity traditionally uses in more rural areas of building individual homes for families in need wasn’t going to work economically on Blue Hill Avenue…and it certainly wouldn’t be enough to turn around the area.

“You can’t rescue a neighborhood with a two-family house,” says Percelay, “but you can with a 22-family house.”

The Blue Hill Avenue project still needs $2 million to complete its ambitious project. Individuals or corporations who would like to make major contributions can contact Percelay directly at
bpercelay@mvernon.com. Other opportunities to contribute money, automobiles, trucks, land, real estate rebates, building materials, or other donations can be found at http://www.habitatboston.org/donate.html.

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