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Tonnetta Graham talks about the SMHHRP on 6ABC-TV

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Twenty-five long-time homeowners are getting a facelift to their properties through the Strawberry Mansion Historic Home Repair Program.

It's an initiative through the Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation. It recently launched and it covers big-ticket items for homeowners including new flooring, plumbing and even removing asbestos.

Sheila Martin, who has lived in her family home on Clifford Street for more than 50 years, is excited to be a part of the program. Philadelphia prosecutor Larry Krasner wins Democratic primary "I'm a widow now. So every bit of help I can get, it saves me a lot," Martin said.

Like most of Philadelphia, the historic homes in Strawberry Mansion are more than 100 years old, so upkeep can be expensive. The goal is to ensure longtime homeowners can afford to stay in the area.

"Strawberry Mansion is housed in between two neighborhoods that have been what they call gentrified, so homeowners who have been here for 40 plus years would like to stay but they feel that pressure," said Strawberry Mansion CDC President Tonnetta Graham.

According to the CDC, the neighborhood has one of the highest rates of Black homeownership in the city and they aim to keep it that way.

Graham said with a 90 percent African American population, Strawberry Mansion has a 44 percent of homeownership. This comes at a time when homeownership is on the decline for Blacks across the country.

With support from the William Penn Foundation, the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, and the 1772 Foundation, SMHHR is a three-year pilot program aimed at repairing and preserving 25 owner-occupied historic homes throughout the neighborhood. The home-repair project aims to provide both educational and architectural support to homeowners in Strawberry Mansion. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia (HFHP) and Mdesigns + MWJ Consulting will complete the physical repair work at no cost to the homeowners.

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