Allentown, PA − March 25, 2022 − Yesterday afternoon, State Senator Nikil Saval (D–Philadelphia) and Lehigh Valley Stands Up brought together residents and community leaders 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.
Yesterday’s event was 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 demands in this swiftly growing field.
The Whole-Home Repairs Act has bipartisan support in the Pennsylvania Senate, and champions at all levels of government. Parallel legislation is being introduced in the Pennsylvania House by State Representative Sara Innamorato (D–Allegheny County).
The campaign for the Whole-Home Repairs Act is supported by numerous community partners across the state who are on the frontline in the fight for housing security.
“If even a nickel is allocated to this program, it’ll be a nickel more than the state has committed to the challenges of our housing market in more than a decade,” said Alan Jennings, affordable housing advocate and former Executive Director of Community Action Lehigh Valley.
“Housing is a human right,” said Angelo Ortega, a member-leader of Make the Road Pennsylvania. “The Whole-Home Repairs Act will help ensure this to be true.”
“I’m so tired of needing home repairs and getting ripped off by home maintenance plans and repair ‘professionals,’ ” said Carol Gonzalez, Allentown community resident and owner of a hundred-plus year-old home. “The Whole-Home Repairs Act is what we need to solve that problem and provide the funds and expertise needed for people to live in a safe home.”
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 are here today because we are working toward a world made right. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the prophet Micah imagined this world. He envisioned a day when ‘Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid.’ It’s a vision of stability, of provision in every season. It imagines a life where every person and family is rooted and settled, where they are in harmony with their community and with creation, where panic and anxiety do not overwhelm,” said Ericka Henry, Pastor of The Holy District in Allentown and a POWER Interfaith leader. “This is not the experience of many in the Lehigh Valley—but it can be, and that’s why I’m advocating for the passage of the Whole-Home Repairs Act.”
“My heating bill is high due to air coming in through my window. I don’t qualify for LIHEAP because my earnings are above their bracket. The Whole-Home Repairs Act will help lower utility bills for renters like me,” said Marylin Mercado, Allentown community resident who rents her home. “Renters need help. We deserve attention, not to be ignored and told to go away.”
“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.”