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YouthBuild students take on two Nicetown homes

Vacant eyesores will become affordable, sustainable homes.

Yesterday, two students from the YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School walked up to the door of a home in the Nicetown section and, as people around them cheered, whaled away at it until they knocked it in.

Goodbye, dilapidated eyesores.

Hello, affordable and sustainable living.

Over the next ten months, in partnership with the building materials company, Saint-Gobain, about 120 students from the school will rehab the homes and incorporate "green" elements, learning "green-collar" skills as they go.

This is the second project for the school and the company.

The current homes, in the 2000 block of Wingohocking Street, have been vacant for 15 years. Now, the design calls for them to meet LEED specifications and will be sold to low- or moderate-income families.

The project dovetails with other neighborhood improvements, including a $40 million rehab of the Wayne Junction train station, across the street from the two homes, officials said.

Mayor Michael Nutter praised the project, according to a press release from Saint-Gobain. "Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and if we want to become a more sustainable city, we must renovate neighborhood-by-neighborhood, block-by-block, in a manner that is both sustainable and affordable," he said. "By leveraging the expertise and support of the private sector, YouthBuild is helping Nicetown accomplish that — and proving that one sustainable home can impact an entire neighborhood's revitalization."

Saint-Gobain and its building materials will provide supplies and employee expertise.