Lancaster, PA − March 22, 2022 − Today, State Senator Nikil Saval (D–Philadelphia) and Lancaster Stands Up brought together residents, community leaders, and state and municipal officials in a united call for the passage of Pennsylvania’s Whole-Home Repairs Act (SB1135), a groundbreaking bipartisan bill that establishes a one-stop shop for home repairs and weatherization while creating new, family-sustaining jobs in a growing field.
Today’s event is part of a week of action, with similar events happening throughout the state. Pennsylvania has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, and hundreds of thousands of people across the Commonwealth are living in homes that are unsafe because they can’t afford to make repairs.
“Housing security is not an urban or suburban or rural issue. Housing security doesn’t fall along political lines. Every person has the right to a home that is safe and healthy, and right now, in counties across our state, people are denied this right because they don’t have the resources they need to repair their homes,” said Senator Saval, who serves as Democratic Chair of the Senate’s Urban Affairs and Housing Committee. “This is unacceptable. The fight for affordable utilities, the fight for safe communities, the fight for housing security, and the fight for equity and justice are all the same fight. And the Whole-Home Repairs Act is how we come out swinging!”
Introduced earlier this month, the Whole-Home Repairs Act braids together funding of up to $50,000 for Pennsylvanians to fix their homes, administrative assistance to ensure that applicants are given the help that they need, and support for training and pre-apprenticeship programs to build the skilled local workforce needed to meet this swiftly growing field.
“Everything starts at home,” said Lancaster City Council President Ismail “Izzy” Smith-Wade-El. “Here in Lancaster, the overwhelming majority of us agree that people who work hard to support their families deserve a safe home they can afford. Constituents have come to me time and again worried that rising rents, expensive repairs, or increased property taxes will force them to leave the community they love and start over somewhere new. We’ve implemented a Critical Repair Program at the city level so that low-income homeowners can get help to keep up with repairs. We know from the data and we know from practice that investment in housing repairs—roofs that keep children dry, furnaces that keep families warm—not only helps to preserve affordable housing and interrupt generational poverty, but reduces crime and improves public health. In Lancaster City, our programs in critical repair and lead removal have helped hundreds of households as a direct investment in their neighborhoods and in our collective future. Every Pennsylvanian deserves the same. I am grateful that Senator Saval has heeded the call to action from working people across PA and is taking action to fix this systemic problem in Harrisburg.”
Parallel legislation for the Whole-Home Repairs Act is being introduced in the Pennsylvania House by State Representative Sara Innamorato (D–Allegheny County).
“As Democratic Chair of the House Urban Affairs Committee, I will continue to work with Senator Saval on improving home repairs, increasing affordable housing, and addressing blight issues,” said State Representative Mike Sturla (D–Lancaster).
The campaign for Whole-Home Repairs is supported by numerous community partners across the state who are on the frontline in the fight for housing security.
“In the first months of the pandemic I was evicted by a landlord who wanted to make repairs to their home,” said Duncan Hopkins, Local Organizer with Lancaster Stands Up. “I can’t help but wonder whether we could have avoided two years of unstable and damaged housing had this bill been law at the beginning of the pandemic. Maybe we’d still be there.”
“We are all beloved children of the Creator and we all deserve safe and healthy places in which to live and love,” said Matt Carlson of POWER Interfaith and Associate Pastor at Akron Mennonite Church in Akron. “Senator Nikil Saval’s Whole Home Repairs Fund (SB1135) will ensure homeowners can remain in their homes by receiving the best of PA’s available home improvement programs.”
Housing and energy advocates have long made the connection between the need for home repairs and weatherization to decrease utility burdens and make it possible for people to stay safely in their homes. But currently, many Pennsylvanians are falling through the cracks.
“We can fight housing scarcity, community displacement and instability, and the deterioration of our homes all at once by passing the Whole-Home Repairs Act,” said Senator Saval. “Pennsylvania can be a leader. We can make a historic investment in our communities.”
Full events listings (including times, locations, and partner groups) for the week of action and more information about the Whole-Home Repairs Act are available on Senator Saval’s website: www.pasenatorsaval.com/WholeHomeRepairs. The full recordings of today’s event and all past events are also posted to the website, and photographs are available upon request.