RRR stories: Philadelphian buys and renovates grandfather’s home (VIDEO)

One year ago, Clarifi helped relaunch Restore Repair Renew to make the City of Philadephia home repair program more accessible to homeowners like Jiciana, who used RRR to renovate her grandfather’s southwest Philadelphia home. We doubled the maximum loan amount to $50,000 and expanded the construction period deadline from three to 12 months. What stays the same: the loan’s 3% fixed interest rate. The goal of RRR is not only for Philadelphians to thrive in warm, safe and dry homes, but for them to create intergenerational wealth.

Jiciana Knight bought her first home at 22, three years older than her grandfather was when he purchased the same southwest Philadelphia property in 1969.

The rowhouse, near Cobbs Creek Parkway, has been in the family for 54 years. Jiciana spent many days after school playing at her mom-mom and pop-pop’s home, buying candy at the corner store down the block – “just good vibes,” she said. There were countless cookouts and big family events, like the baby shower her mom held when she was pregnant with Jiciana.

“This is the family home,” Jiciana said, sitting in an empty upstairs bedroom.

Her family shared a lot of love in that home, but after decades of wear and tear, it needed the kind of love that involved gutting every corner, from the old, stained dark blue carpet to the rotting kitchen sink. Those repairs equated to tens of thousands of dollars – capital Jiciana didn’t yet have after buying the property.

Still, the Philly native was determined to get ahead and revive her grandparents’ home quickly. She began scoping out programs that could jumpstart the process and came across Restore, Repair, Renew. The City of Philadelphia program, of which Clarifi is a partner, provides 3% fixed interest rate loans for home repairs of up to $50,000 to eligible homeowners.

Jiciana hadn’t seen an interest rate that low since 2021, when she bought the home. She submitted all the required application materials to Clarifi in one day.

“I really wanted to do this program,” she said.

She was approved for a loan at the end of February 2023, and a Clarifi staff member assessed the home for necessary repairs. Through the program, Clarifi also provides information on how to select a contractor and review an estimate, as well as submitting the contractor’s estimate to the homebuyer’s lender and answering any questions along the way.

On March 9, the contractors got to work, and in less than five months, Jiciana transformed what used to be her grandparent’s home. The now contemporary kitchen has an open layout with fresh appliances and cabinetry. New interior walls and flooring line the home. The updated bathroom boasts a rain shower head and a new toilet, sink and shower with stylish wall tile. Last but not least, she dedicated one of the bedrooms to her fluffy black cat.

“Restore, Repair, Renew has helped me a lot in my goals that I want to have for my future and my life,” Jiciana said. “It’s allowing people like me and my community to be able to be an investor. We’re investing in ourselves, investing in our homes and bringing higher after-repair values into our houses.”

For more information, visit clarifi.org/rrr.