Before the homes become rubble

In February 2017, I received a tip as the News Editor for The Temple News that a public housing development right next to the university’s Main Campus was going to be knocked down and redeveloped. 

That tip led me to a nearly nine-month investigation in which I documented what it was like for the residents of Norris Homes to pack up their lives and leave without any control over what was happening. I also uncovered how Temple University pitched in to help the Philadelphia Housing Authority secure the OK to demolish Norris Homes and how some of the new apartments could be leased to students.

To research the project, I spoke to public housing advocates and experts, knocked on every door in Norris Homes that was still occupied and tracked down the university officials who had any involvement with Norris Homes. 

I had a snapshot of what it was like for residents to leave and a structure of larger powers behind the impending demolition. Once the words were written, I built the longform presentation for the story with one of our designers and worked to make it interactive for readers and mobile responsive. 

“Before the homes become rubble” earned 8th place in the 2017 Hearst Awards for Feature Writing. It also took First for Best Multimedia in the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence awards

Author: Julie Christie

A student journalist in the greater Philadelphia area