A housing program attempts to bring employees closer to campus through loans.
Four years after it was introduced, Temple’s Employee Home Ownership Program is making an impact on the community around Main Campus and the Health Sciences Center.
The program offers a $4,000 or $5,000 forgivable loan to employees who live in designated areas in the city and is available to all full-time employees, according to Temple’s Human Resources website.
“I’m certain that there are employees who participate in the program for whom it would have either been more challenging or maybe impossible to purchase a home,” Beverly Coleman, assistant vice president for community relations and economic development, said. “So I think it’s been a help to employees and hopefully its contributed to the community.”
The area employees must live in to receive the benefit ranges through eight zip codes across North Philadelphia including Nicetown, Kensington, North Philadelphia East and West, Fairmount North and South and Spring Garden North and South.
Gerry O’Kane, assistant director of benefits, said the program is meant to help with the cost of buying a home.
He said 37 employees have used the program so far, and it has been successful in integrating employees into the community since it was implemented.
“I think that achieving home ownership makes you more concerned about what’s going on around you because it has an impact on your property value, and you’re also making a long term commitment to a place, so you want that community to be viable and to be stable,” Coleman said.
Along with helping employees ease the cost of buying a home, Coleman said the program also helps the community surrounding Main Campus and HSC by providing the stability of home ownership.
“You want to have a balance of different types of development and different types of housing and one of the ways that you increase stability is to have home ownership because home owners are likely to stay for a longer period of time and are more likely to be more invested in the community, and so I think it’s a way of contributing to the stability of the community,” Coleman said.
Coleman added that the program does not solely affect the area surrounding Main Campus and HSC, rather it contributes to the entire city of Philadelphia.
“I think it’s also a way of contributing to the viability of Philadelphia by encouraging people to live in Philadelphia,” Coleman said. “So, it’s really a program that is a win-win for the university and the communities that surround us. It’s a great way for us to be a good neighbor.”
While the program has been hailed for its impact on the community, some feel that it does not have its intended effect on the community around Temple.
“I think that it’s a nice thing for professors, it’s a nice thing for faculty, but that’s really all it is,” sociology professor Mary Stricker said. “I don’t think it’s going to help the community, by that we mean the working class and poor, black community around Temple.”
Stricker added that she doesn’t think faculty buying houses is necessarily going to improve their lives, “just like buying up houses and having students live in those communities doesn’t seem to do much in terms of changing the income, the unemployment, the education of people in the community.”
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.