Yorktown, a historic neighborhood in Philadelphia created in 1960 encompasses 635 homes all sold to first-time homebuyers. The original plan called for and delivered modern 3- and 4-bedroom homes marketed to and purchased by African-American homebuyers with children. Since that time, Yorktown has served as a model in urban redevelopment and set a precedent for homeownership by African-American families in Philadelphia who were largely locked-out of the real estate market in many segregated neighborhoods and by discriminatory real estate and lending practices at that time. It was the only community where the first owners were African-American, helping to demonstrate the economic power and home-buying potential of African-Americans and other minorities in the city.
50 years later, the Yorktown CDC recognized the need to create an updated plan grounded in today’s challenges and opportunities. Working with V. Lamar Wilson Associates, our charge was to create a resident-driven strategic plan dedicated to organizing local voices and resources for the coming years. To ensure widespread resident engagement, meetings, focus groups and a survey was used to discuss the community’s present and future. An integral component of the public outreach was an emphasis placed on local storytelling. The Yorktown Chatter Box was created as a mobile recording and listening booth where residents can record their stories about the neighborhood and their ideas for the future. The Chatter Box made its debut on Yorktown Day and was later housed in the Yorktown CDC offices.