Traditionally a beacon of acceptance, Cheltenham is currently going through a period of uncertainty that could affect everyone who lives in the township, writes Avi Wolfman-Arent for NewsWorks.
For more than 150 years, this Montgomery County town has been welcoming to all. The diverse makeup of the town has its roots in the Civil War, with the establishment of Camp William Penn where African-American soldiers were trained.
When the war ended, the town kept its welcoming reputation, becoming a destination of choice not just for African-American, but also Catholics and Jews who found they were embraced by the community.
But these days, people are complaining about the town’s poverty and the influx of renters, even though the numbers show this is not actually the case. Nevertheless, this perception has prompted a number of longtime residents to move away, causing a fall in house prices that has started a vicious downward economic cycle.
But now, residents hope that by banding together they can create a strong, integrated community.
“We will be the proof that it can work,” says 18-year resident, Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein. “You don’t have to be a community of like people.”
Read more about Cheltenham’s situation at NewsWorks by clicking here.