Pennsylvania’s Whole Home Repairs program goes national

State Sen. Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia) speaking at a Whole Home Repairs rally on the steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on May 1, 2023. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

March 5, 2024

US Sen. John Fetterman introduced a national version of Pennsylvania’s Whole Home Repairs program on Tuesday. The popular program combats neighborhood blight and allows homeowners to weatherize their homes and make needed repairs.

Pennsylvania’s wildly popular Whole Home Repairs program got a national boost on Tuesday when US Sens. John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania) and Cynthia Lummins (R-Wyoming) introduced a national bipartisan version of the program in the Senate.

“We know how important this program is in Pennsylvania,” State Sen. Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia) said in an interview with The Keystone as he was traveling to Washington DC to watch the bill be introduced on the US Senate floor.

Saval has championed the Whole Home Repairs program in Pennsylvania, which allows lower-income homeowners and smaller landlords to make repairs and weatherization upgrades, since its inception in 2022 when it received $125 million in the budget. That money was given to county governments to distribute among local residents.

“We know that the need is enormous and we know that the program is popular and successful, but also we know that the need isn’t limited to Pennsylvania. There is aging housing stock everywhere. There’s deferred maintenance and energy efficiency needs everywhere. There’s job training needed everywhere. This is a recognition that something that we developed in Pennsylvania can be applied across the country and we’re proud of that,” Saval said.

It would be an understatement to call the program “popular.”

Allegheny County had ten times the amount of applicants applying for the program than grants that were available when they launched the application process last June. They had over 2,600 applicants for 250 grants.

The future of the program in Pennsylvania is faced with some uncertainty. Legislators approved $50 million in funding for the Whole Home Repairs program in the 2023-24 budget. However, that money was initially withheld by Republican State Treasurer Stacy Garrity during budget negotiations over the summer and never made it into the final budget related bills that were passed in December.

Gov. Josh Shapiro included the Whole Home Repairs program in this upcoming budget and Saval seems hopeful that the program will be funded going into the future.

Fetterman’s office sees a national Whole Home Repairs program as a crucial program that’s needed for solving the country’s housing shortage.

“Pennsylvania’s Whole-Homes program was an incredible success,” Fetterman said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This bill will make it so that more working families can afford repairs for their homes and help ensure money that goes out through existing programs goes further. We are in a housing crisis – and this is one, critical piece of the solution. It’s a perfect example of how government can work in concrete ways to meaningfully improve people’s lives. I’m so proud to introduce a bill to bring this program to the federal level.”

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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