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In Germantown, cleanliness is next to squad-liness

A special-services district contracts with crews from a firm that provides transitional housing and work to homeless men. The arrangement has been a success.

AS SPRING CLEANING gets underway in the city, the Germantown Special Services District is attracting attention for its efforts.

Since 2013, cleaning has been "the No. 1 priority for us and for business owners, too," said Anthony Dean, the district's leader. "Cleaning is key to increasing greater development in the area."

The district contracted with a firm called Ready, Willing and Able to maintain the Germantown Avenue and Chelten Avenue business corridors. The firm provides transitional housing and work to homeless men through the city's Office of Supportive Housing to help them live independently.

The firm's crews are on the streets Monday through Saturday.

"I believe that once people start seeing the streets clean, they will take notice and take pride in the area and think twice before dropping their trash on the ground," Dean said. "We have made such great strides."

Joseph Martin, a district board member who owns Acclaim Academy, an early-child-care center in Germantown, said it's important for parents to come to a litter-free neighborhood.

"The biggest change since the cleanups started is the change in the community's attitude," Martin said. "There is a significant rise of hope, and I think that people are starting to believe that Germantown is going back to days of glory when the neighborhood was the No. 1 area in Philadelphia."

The district was created in 1995 but ran out of funding in 2011. It was relaunched in 2013 by an ordinance passed by City Council. In a special-services district, properties contribute through tax assessments to neighborhood cleaning and beautification.

Councilwoman Cindy Bass championed the resurrection of the Germantown district, Dean said. Bass told the Daily News that she is happy with what has been accomplished.

"It is a necessary component for the progress and development of the businesses in the Germantown corridor," Bass said. "It has helped enhance the work that community is doing to attract more businesses and people to the area."

The district will conduct a volunteer cleanup beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday as a part of Philly Spring Clean Up 2015. Mayor Nutter is expected to speak in Germantown that day to highlight the district's efforts, Dean said.