ALLENTOWN, PA − April 19, 2023 − Yesterday State Senator Nikil Saval (D–Philadelphia) joined Lehigh Valley Stands Up, Make the Road Pennsylvania, POWER Interfaith, Community Action Lehigh Valley, Sunrise Movement, and Berks County elected officials, community leaders, and residents in a united call for permanent funding for Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking Whole-Home Repairs Program.
The Whole-Home Repairs Program passed in July 2022 with an initial $125-million appropriation to create and launch the program. But after decades of disinvestment in PA homes, the need is immense.
“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,” said Senator Saval. “The need for this program is every bit as huge as we anticipated—and that’s why we’re calling on the state’s General Assembly to secure permanent funding. Whole-Home Repairs deserves investment because Pennsylvanians deserve investment.”
The Whole-Home Repairs Program establishes a one-stop shop in each county for lifesaving home repairs and weatherization, making it so that Pennsylvanians can stay warm, safe, and dry in homes they can afford while building out Pennsylvania’s workforce and creating new family-sustaining jobs in a growing field.
“For years, Community Action has supported low- to moderate-income homeowners with essential repairs to their homes, but we have seen the need—and the costs of completing the repairs—continue to grow,” said Anna Smith, Director of Community Action Development Bethlehem, on behalf of Community Action Lehigh Valley, which is administering the Whole-Home Repairs Program for the region. “Too often, the funds for these programs remain stagnant and the pieces of the pie available get smaller and smaller. And that’s why Whole-Home Repairs is such an incredible initiative—for the first time in decades, we are seeing a massive, statewide commitment to investing in our housing stock so that our low-income homeowners.”
Demand for the program has been overwhelming, even before applications have opened for residents, and is expected to quickly outpace the available funds. Results of a spring 2022 survey by Data for Progress and People’s Action showed that a quarter of PA voters live in a home that needs a critical repair, and a third face high energy burdens, citing utility bills that are unaffordable.
“Here in Allentown, nearly 70% of our houses were built before the 1960s. Every day, my constituents navigate problems afflicting their aging homes that far surpass their limited resources and their ability to invest in them,” said State Representative Josh Siegel (D–Lehigh). “There is no issue more endemic to our time than housing insecurity, and no moral imperative more urgent than taking meaningful action to end it. I hope the legislature can build on last year’s progress with the Whole-Home Repairs Program and make an annual, recurring commitment to ensuring that healthy homes are available to every household.”
“This legislation is good for our neighborhoods, ensuring safe, stable, up-to-code housing. This legislation is good for our economy, making it easier for folks to purchase the goods and services they need. This legislation is good for families, allowing mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, to stay in their homes,” said Fr. Jon Stratton, Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. “Whole-Home Repairs must be included each year in the annual budget, and it needs to go from $125 million to $300 million. And if you think that’s too much, if you think we can’t afford it, well, the truth is, we can’t afford not to love our neighbors.”
Local residents of Lehigh Valley added their voices in support of the program.
“My house was built in 1905, and I have spent a fortune in maintenance and repairs in the 19 years that I’ve lived in it,” said Carol Gonzalez, with Lehigh Valley Stands Up. “My goal was to have all major work completed before I retired, however, I have gotten ripped off many times by unscrupulous contractors, leaving me with major repairs left undone and the inability now to get them done. The Whole Home Repairs funds will provide people in my situation the ability to get necessary repairs done and live in a safe home.”
“Whole-Home Repairs is what our community needs,” said Angelo Ortega, with Make the Road Pennsylvania. “We are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Ida. 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. I am hopeful that we can get more funds this year. It will bring us more hope if Whole-Home Repairs is funded with additional money and recurring funds.”
In conjunction with the Week of Action, more than five dozen organizations released an open letter to the state’s General Assembly to call on representatives to allocate $300 million for the Whole-Home Repairs Program this year and to make funding for the program permanent.
“This is how we can begin to meet the scale of the crisis,” the organizations state. “The Whole-Home Repairs Program is a housing security initiative, an energy and climate resiliency initiative, an anti-blight initiative, a jobs initiative, and a community safety initiative. It will enable children to grow up in homes free from lead and mold, families to build generational wealth and wellness, and seniors to remain in their homes as they experience changes in their abilities.”
The full text of the open letter and the list of signatories is available here: https://pastandsup.org/news/open-letter:-permanent-funding-for-whole-home-repairs/.
Full event listings (including times, locations, and partner groups) for the week of action and more information about the Whole-Home Repairs Program are available on Senator Saval’s website: www.pasenatorsaval.com/WholeHomeRepairs. The full recordings of all past events and accompanying photographs are also posted to the website. Pennsylvania residents are invited to add their names as supporters of the program.