Rev. Kermit Newkirk
Harold O. Davis Memorial Baptist Church

Philadelphia, PA

Interview conducted by Lynn Adler
Producer of Faith, Hope and Capital

Rev. Kermit Newkirk is a leader of Philadelphia Interfaith Action, a community coalition that worked with The Reinvestment Fund to build Nehemiah West, 135 affordable new homes in a neglected neighborhood.

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RN: I'm Kermit Newkirk and I'm pastor of the Harold O. Davis Memorial Baptist Church. I'm also Project Coordinator for Nehemiah Phase I Development of Affordable Homes in Philadelphia

LA: Rev. Newkirk, let's get right into it. What is Nehemiah all about?

RN: Well, it's based on the biblical character, Nehemiah, who went to the king because he saw the condition of the city and he got permission from the king to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the gates and the walls of the city. And what Nehemiah's about really is to go into depressed areas of the inner city and areas where nobody's really developing, that people have forgotten, abandoned, and bring truly affordable homes. Critical for our success is: organized people, organized money, and a critical mass of land, so that we can bring not just two, twenty, thirty, fifty houses, but really three hundred, four hundred, five hundred——present a new community in the midst of a most blighted area. We got that concept from our sister organizations in New York, ABC, who did about two thousand, three thousand in East Brooklyn. BUILDT, Baltimorean's United In Leadership Development in Training, did about seven hundred in Baltimore. So, the concept is now here in Philadelphia and that's what we're planning to do——develop new communities in the midst of blight.

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