Low Income PA Homeowners Could Get Help Repairing Their Homes Thanks to This Program

BRADDOCK, PA - OCTOBER 13: Street scenes from the historical steel mill town of Braddock, Pennsylvania on October 13, 2016. Braddock was once a thriving center of America's steel industry but once the mills closed, it suffered severe economic decline and depopulation. Efforts are being made to repurpose many of the abandoned buildings for art projects and community development, and U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson mill is still operational. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Sean Kitchen

April 21, 2023

Legislators and advocates toured Pennsylvania this week promoting the Whole Home Repairs program, which aims to help low-income homeowners and small landlords upgrade and weatherize their homes.

State Sen. Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia) toured Pennsylvania this week promoting his Whole Home Repair program that made it into last year’s budget negotiations. The program received $125 million from the legislature and provides resources so residents can make important upgrades and weatherize their homes.  

“My office has received more than 6,000 calls from residents who heard about the Whole-Home Repairs Program and who, for the first time, feel a sense of hope that their government will be an ally in providing them with the support they need to stay in their homes and in their communities,” Saval said in a statement.

The senator hosted events promoting the program in Allentown, Lancaster, Pittsburgh and Reading, joined by colleagues from the state House and Senate and a coalition of progressive organizations.  

Counties can apply for funding and use the money to create and/or run grant and loan programs. Money for home repairs and weatherization will be targeted to low-income homeowners and small landlords.

The amount of money each county receives is based on Census Bureau data on median income by household size, the age of housing stock, and the number of households that meet certain income limits.

The first payments from the program went out last month, with $330,000 going to Wayne County and more than $2 million headed to Lackawanna County. 

Pennsylvania Stands Up, one of the organizations that helped plan Saval’s tour, is seeking to expand the program’s budget to $300 million. Pennsylvania’s aging housing stock affects residents in rural and urban areas disproportionately. According to the organization, half of the state’s rural homes and almost three-quarters of urban homes are over 50 years old.  

In Allentown, Angelo Ortega, with Make the Road Pennsylvania, explained how his family is still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Ida a year and a half later. 

“There is still mold in our basement. We have to live with mildew and mold and constantly be cleaning the affected area. Many of my neighbors share a very similar story,” he said.

State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El (D-Lancaster) described Lancaster as one of the country’s oldest inland cities with an aging housing stock in the city’s African American and Latino communities. On Friday in Lancaster, Smith-Wade-El said that the Whole Home Repair program is “going to provide our grandmothers, our grandfathers, our aunts, our friends and neighbors with the resources they need to fix up their homes, keep ownership of those homes and pass them on to future generations.”   

Following the Lancaster event, Saval stated that “the money is going out the door at the state level to all the counties that applied for it.” 

In total, 64 out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties applied for the program’s money with the application process expected to open in June. Saval advised qualifying homeowners and landlords who are interested in the program to reach out to their local county officials. 

You can visit the PA Department of Community and Economic Development website for more information, program guidelines, and how to apply in your county. 

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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