A building trades union is planning to provide free home repairs to North Philadelphia residents whose homes were damaged by bullets during an August standoff between police and a barricaded gunman, officials said Thursday.
Deputy Mayor Rich Lazer confirmed the effort, first reported by the news website Billy Penn, saying District Council 21 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades will finalize the plans in the next several weeks once a union committee that oversees community initiatives makes a final approval. Work on the homes should begin shortly after that.
Union leaders directed questions about the plans to business manager Joseph Ashdale, who didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Lazer said he reached out to Ashdale to ask for assistance in helping those who live on the 3700 block of North 15th Street, many of whom live in homes with windows, roofs, and front doors damaged by a barrage of stray bullets and fragments. He said union members went to the block several weeks ago, alongside representatives from the city’s Managing Director’s Office, to asses the damage.
“Joe [Ashdale] and DC21 always step up whenever we’ve reached out to them for help,” Lazer said.
To formalize the agreement, Mayor Jim Kenney wrote in a letter to Ashdale, dated Oct. 2: “Knowing of your union’s past generosity and willingness to help whenever needed, I am again asking for your assistance in helping to heal a community and assist in making repairs to several houses that were damaged due to gun fire during this incident.”
Neighbors who live on the Nicetown-Tioga block spent nearly eight hours under siege Aug. 14 after police served a search warrant for narcotics and were then showered with bullets by alleged gunman Maurice Hill, who had barricaded himself in a home. Six police officers were shot.
The residents then endured life in a weeks-long crime scene as investigators pored over what ended up being more than a hundred rounds fired by police and the gunman.
DC21 represents about 4,200 painters, drywall finishers, glass workers, and others throughout the Philadelphia region.