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Neighborhoods In South, Southwest Philly Receive DCED Grant

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A quarter of a million dollar state grant will help the Point Breeze and Grays Ferry section of South Philadelphia deal with two issues plaguing that community. The grant will also cover neighborhoods in the southwest section of the city.

The $250,000 state Department of Community and Economic Development grant will be used to clean out vacant lots owned by the city in the 186th legislative district, while training and employing formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as those in recovery.

"This grant will be providing an opportunity to learn a skill that they can later use to market themselves as they reintegrate into the community," said Pa. State Rep. Jordan Harris (186th Dist).  He helped secure the grant and says it will clean up more than half of his district.

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"Removing overgrown vegetation and cleaning degree from community corridors, as well as commercial corridors," he says. "It's really about improving the quality of life in this area and allowing people to make better use of property while helping individuals in need of a second chance."

Surge Recovery and Ready Willing and Able are partnering with the state to provide workers for the project; they've already mapped out the district, rating lots.

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"It helps us keep up a good work ethic," says Zachariah Moser, who has spent the past three weeks in a program at Ready Willing and Able. He is one of ten men from RWA who will clean out the lots. Moser, who says he wants to be a dancer, is now clean and sober after years of addiction and homelessness. He says RWA is helping him get his GED and he's happy for the work.

"It's helping me out in all aspects of my life," he says. "Maybe the work we do will inspire the community to keep things nice."

The clean up effort will begin in October. Harris says he is hoping that the effort will be a model for the city.

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