Brooks council member launches campaign to restore public gardens Local news

On Monday, Philadelphia City Council member Kendra Brooks announced a plan to restore public gardens and green spaces across the city.

Restore Community Land aims to restore hundreds of places close to being lost forever and sold through sheriff’s sales due to the pledges of private company US Banks.

“Restore Community Land is an attempt to correct the mistakes of our city’s past treatment of black and brown communities and pave the way for land sovereignty,” Brooks said. “As a trained justice restoration practitioner, I believe the city has a duty to repair the damage it caused when it sold thousands of properties and left it to the community to pick up pieces when the property was vacant for years.”

Brooks and her partners, including City Council colleagues Helen Gim (general) and Jamie Gauthier, D-3rd County, identified 500 unsafe plots of common land that are actively used as gardens or yards, and another 475, which can be purchased.

“I am proud to speak with Council Member Brooks to keep public plots in the hands of neighbors who have raised them for decades,” Gauthier said. “The failures of this mortgage deal between the city and the US Bank are constantly present in our black and brown areas. Community members themselves have taken on the mantle to fight this deinvestment if other institutions have abandoned them. allow to allow the Sheriff’s sales to continue to dispose of property that could become an asset of the district, improving public safety during an epidemic of gun violence in Philadelphia. “

According to Brooks, in 1997, Philadelphia sold 30,000 properties to American banks when it needed more money to pay for the school district.

As the property emptied, the communities caught up with them and transformed. Now, 25 years later, all this work is in suspense because of the collateral associated with the parcels.

“U.S. Bank mortgages pose the greatest threat to the future of nearly a hundred plots of land in thriving public gardens across Philadelphia,” said Jenny Greenberg, executive director of the Neighborhood Gardens Trust. “It is invaluable that the leadership of Brooks, Gauthier, Guillaume and other council members work to stop the loss of common land in the sale of the sheriff, and budget funds to acquire mortgages from the US Bank. This is a key moment for the city to regain control of abandoned land and support community-oriented land use that provides access to greenery and healthy food, climate resilience, public safety and affordable housing. ”

Brooks ’proposal would call on City Council and Mayor Jim Kenny’s administration to approve $ 10 million in the 2023 budget to restore priority lands and areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has suspended sheriff’s sales; however, they resumed in April 2021, and the U.S. bank intends to sell off all remaining lots by 2023.

“Community gardens serve a vital purpose in Philadelphia, providing green space for cultivation, serving as community centers, and helping to beautify neighborhoods,” said Justin Third, director of gardening programs at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. “The gardens maintain physical health through their generosity and mental health, being a green respite. We hope that others across the city of Philadelphia will come together to support the preservation of these living spaces.”

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