Pittsburgh brothers relocate to tackle home rehabs, call Stephen Colbert chicken

Inspired by a 20/20 episode that highlighted Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope's Hamtramck house project, Ian Perrotta and his brother hopped in their car and drove from Greensburg, PA -- that's about 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh -- straight to Detroit. Within a week, they had purchased five homes in Detroit just outside of the Hamtramck city limits.

Perrotta, a recent college graduate and member of the Greensburg Volunteer Department Hose Company #8, has experience with construction and salvage, but realized that five homes was a lot to take on. So, the brothers formed Habitat for Hamtramck. The organization is intended to promote the endeavor, draw in volunteers and funds, and keep all project finances transparent. Their web site will "serve as kind of a reality TV show to show how easy and feasible the task that I had set forward to accomplish was," Ian Perrotta says.

To raise awareness for Habitat for Hamtramck, Perrotta has issued a fundraising challenge to cable TV show host Stephen Colbert called "Is Stephen Colbert a Coward?". If the effort raises $350,000, one of the homes will be named after Colbert, and a mural bearing his likeness will be painted on the side of it. A local artist, Brian McCall, is even designing a model of what a Colbert-model home would look like, and he will sell it on eBay to benefit the project.

Perrotta's goal is to complete three of the homes this summer and have an "entire machine" in place by next summer to rehab homes in the area quickly and cheaply. "Within two hours of visiting, I'd already decided to live there," he says. "It's already a great place to live, but I don't think anyone would disagree that it could be a better place -- that's what our goal is."

Source: Ian Perrotta, Habitat for Hamtramck
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh