Assisting area residents

No doubt, everyone is familiar with the hackneyed real estate mantra, "Location, location, location." For Diane-Louise Wormley, the just-appointed managing director for community housing, that chant will be augmented by "outreach."

"There will be lots and lots and lots of outreach," Wormley said. "It will really be a coordinated effort, all geared toward marketing the area."

Wormley's primary role will be to strengthen neighboring communities by increasing home ownership in University City. To that end, she said several new programs or enhancements to existing programs are being developed; details should be available in about six weeks, Wormley said.

Moreover, the University will seek to identify and build relationships with resources and companies that will assist homeowners in the area with home improvement projects, Wormley said. For example, she said a database of tradespeople knowledgeable of Victorian homes is being assembled.

Home-buying seminars for the Penn community and eventually to non-Penn buyers will also be part of the outreach efforts, Wormley said.

The Office of Off-Campus Living also will report to Wormley, who said renters would also be targeted in efforts to get more people living in the area.

"We don't really have a good temporary housing program for people who want to live in the neighborhood," Wormley said. "Everything I will be doing will be about getting and keeping people in the community."

And don't tell Wormley that it's not safe in West Philadelphia. "I've been living here a long time," she said. "People who say, 'Don't live in West Philadelphia,' say it out of ignorance, and that's something I want to address."

At Penn since 1984, Wormley started out as senior counselor for the Penn Plan, a tuition financing program. Recently, Wormley co-chaired the 40th Street Action Team, completing a number of improvements to the retail strip.

Originally published on January 28, 1998