On May 8, the city’s Vacant Properties Review Committee recommended that the city transfer the ownership of five parcels of land to New Jerusalem, an addiction recovery center and community garden in North Philadelphia. The transfer will be finalized with City Council’s approval. Run by non-denominational nuns, New Jerusalem has been a welcoming space for the community and people in recovery since the 1980s. The Garden Justice Legal Initiative worked with the Philadelphia Land Bank to facilitate the transfer.
“We are encouraged by the Land Bank’s efforts these past few weeks. This proposed transfer of land indicates that the agency is working to improve its commitment to urban agriculture and preservation of vital community resources like New Jerusalem,” said staff attorney Ebony Griffin. “Gardens across the city are still facing intense development pressure and gentrification. We hope this action is the start of a reliable commitment from the city and Land Bank to protect community gardens, urban farms, and open space.”
Earlier this year, Griffin and pro bono counsel at Morgan Lewis helped New Jerusalem obtain the deeds to two privately owned lots through adverse possession. The Garden Justice Legal Initiative has represented New Jerusalem since 2016.