BON JOVI HELPING THE HOMELESS
July 11, 2009
Rock star Jon Bon Jovi brought his considerable star power to announce a plan Wednesday for an environmentally friendly housing facility for 79 homeless men and women in downtown Philadelphia.
Longtime homeless advocacy groups Project H.O.M.E. and Bethesda Project are partners on the facility, to be built next year on one-fifth of an acre behind the 169-year-old St. John the Evangelist Church.
It’s expected to be finished by the end of next year and will be a block from City Hall, the symbolic center of downtown.
“Improving the lives of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens improves the lives of all of its citizens,” said Bon Jovi of the project, his fourth in partnership with Project H.O.M.E.
Bon Jovi has worked to build more than 150 units of affordable housing in seven cities through his Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation since 2006.
Several speakers categorized the project, nearly five years in the making, as a “roller coaster ride.”
Opponents in eight other areas nixed the plan before it was “welcomed with open arms” by businesses and neighbors in the current location, said Sister Mary Scullion, co-founder of Project H.O.M.E (Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education).
“We are one community and we all must play a role in ending homelessness,” she said.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Bon Jovi said homelessness is a focus of his philanthropy because it “doesn’t care if you’re black or white, young or old, Republican or Democrat, Giants fan or Eagles fan.” “You don’t need a scientist to pray for a cure; this is something that money and effort can accomplish,” said the Grammy winner and an owner of the Philadelphia Soul, a franchise in the currently suspended Arena Football League.
The 8-story, 63,000-square-foot building is being designed to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. It will feature a vegetation-covered “green roof,” rainwater collection system and high-efficiency utilities.
Public awareness of local efforts also is key, he said, because it encourages others to get involved. That’s another part where he knows he can help.
“There’s a lot of these great organizations across the country and often times they just need a spotlight brought to them,” he said. “And I shine a bright spotlight.”