Angel Colón of 4008 North 5th Street has lived in Hunting Park for decades. These days, he’s living a little more comfortably than he has in several years thanks to Esperanza Housing and Economic Development (EHED), Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, and a variety of funding partners.
Mr. Colón was the first beneficiary of the Building Hope Critical Home Repair Initiative, a program that will provide low-cost critical home repairs to 20 owner-occupied homes along North 5th Street, with Habitat serving as the general contractor. The program will invest a total of $500,000 in home repairs thanks to generous funding from PNC Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank Pittsburgh, and other funders. Esperanza and Habitat announced the partnership in front of Mr. Colon’s newly repaired home on Monday, March 5.
Three years ago, Mr. Colón, a retired GOYA truck driver, had a leaky roof that he was unable to repair due to his fixed income. “Before Esperanza fixed the roof, I had a lot of buckets on the step over there and a bucket in the back over there,” Colón said, gesturing to areas of his house where he needed to catch the water leaking in. The buckets would fill up with black, moldy water, he said.
Mr. Colón had applied for assistance from the city, but had not received a response. Over the summer, he heard about the Critical Home Repair Initiative and connected with Esperanza. Staff from EHED took some photos of his home and promised to return in two weeks.
In the meantime, Mr. Colón received word that the city had denied his application for roof repair. The very next day, Esperanza returned, along with staff from Habitat.
“Through the Esperanza program I met the Habitat program and they started working on my roof,” Mr. Colón said. “They put in my new roof, they put in the new heating and cooling system, upgraded my electric, and put in new windows. For that I am really grateful and appreciate everything they’ve done for my house.”
Habitat did extensive repair and cleaning work on Mr. Colón’s house over the summer. He noted that their repairs to his heating and cooling systems have lowered his monthly utility bills from $1,000 to only $400. Once the weather warms up again, Habitat will add a few finishing touches on his home.
Mr. Colón’s gratitude is evident when you speak with him, and he notes the ways his life has improved since the repairs began. “My life changed a lot because the repair they’ve done on my house is something I could not afford with my Social Security check,” he said. “My health is ok because now I feel no stress because I don’t have that problem on my back.”
Ultimately, Mr. Colón is excited about his new home, and for the 19 other homeowners and families who will participate in the Building Hope Critical Home Repair Initiative, his neighbors who will get to experience similar transformation.
“I feel better for the neighborhood because with house repair like that, the whole block is going to look better.”
This story was also covered by CBS Philly, 6abc, and Univision.