PITTSBURGH, PA − April 20, 2023 − Today, State Senator Nikil Saval (D–Philadelphia), State Representative Sara Innamorato (D–Allegheny), and State Representative Aerion Abney (D–Allegheny), joined One Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania United, 1Hood Power, Action Housing, Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, Sunrise Movement, and residents and community leaders in a united call for permanent funding for Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking Whole-Home Repairs Program.
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.
“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 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 will help seniors and working families repair their homes, build strong communities, and create good-paying local jobs,” said Innamorato. “While this program is a win for all Pennsylvanians, we know that we have a multi-billion-dollar problem on our hands, and the $125 million that we have to deal with it today will only serve a fraction of the need that exists. We are here today to encourage our leadership in Harrisburg to prioritize creating a long-term funding stream for the Whole-Home Repairs Program so that we can continue to invest in safe and healthy homes for all Pennsylvanians.”
The Whole-Home Repairs Program was developed and passed with broad bipartisan support to address the shared struggles of rural, urban, and suburban counties to preserve their housing, stabilize their communities, and provide their residents with the means to stay safe and healthy in their homes.
“When we talk about housing justice, we’re not just talking about an individual’s ability or inability to purchase a home or find a reasonable rent—it’s also about what happens once they find a place to live and whether they’re able to maintain that quality of life for themselves and their loved ones,” said Abney. “The Whole-Home Repairs Program is going to help people stay in their homes, remain in the communities that they love, and push back on displacement in our neighborhoods. I’m looking forward to pushing for more housing justice in Allegheny County and across the Commonwealth.”
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.
Jeaneen Zappa, Executive Director of the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, addressed the ability of the Whole-Home Repairs Program to enable residents to access additional resources.
“This is gap funding. We have wonderful resources in Pennsylvania, but without the Whole-Home Repairs Program, we can’t apply these resources,” said Zappa. “We need permanent funding. This is a permanent problem, and we will not transform Pennsylvania to be ready for the next era if we do not treat our housing as infrastructure.”
Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis joined the event today to emphasize the Shapiro-Davis Administration’s support for the program and commitment to moving quickly to disburse funds, while administering the program effectively and efficiently.
“Whole-Home Repairs is a true win-win for everyone involved, and the overwhelming demand for this new program is a testament to the fact that it’s just common sense,” said Davis. “Earlier this week I talked about helping seniors and Pennsylvanians with disabilities stay in their homes through an expansion of the Property Tax and Rent Rebate program. But that’s not enough—we need to make sure Pennsylvanians who are struggling can afford to maintain their homes, too. Older Pennsylvanians can age in place. Children can live in safe and healthy homes. Utility bills will be more affordable. We’re creating more jobs. That’s what this program will do, and it will benefit folks not just here in Allegheny County, but all across the Commonwealth.”
“This is an incredibly important bill, not just for home repairs, which are drastically needed—we’re expecting to see somewhere in the range of 3000 applications total—but also a very important and much needed jobs creation bill,” said Dan Sullivan, Housing Stabilization Program Manager at Action Housing, which is administering the Whole-Home Repairs Program for Allegheny County. “There are a lot of people who just need a little training so that they can earn wonderful wages in the trade industries.”
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.
“With over half of Pittsburgh’s housing stock built prior to 1940, the Whole-Home Repairs Program will have a massive impact here in Allegheny County,” said Senator Wayne Fontana (D–Allegheny). “My colleague from Philadelphia, Senator Saval, continues to lead on this issue and, in my role in the leadership of the Senate Democrats, I will push for continued funding for the program moving forward.”
Pittsburgh residents added their voices in support of the program.
“My great-grandparents migrated to the Braddock area in the 1930s to work in the mill. They established their lives here by buying a home and raising four generations,” said Arik Morgan, a One Pennsylvania member from Braddock. “I want to stay in this area and not walk away from my home, but if I don’t get relief it will be harder for people like myself—who have these roots—to stay here.”
“WHR passing shows that policy is not a dead end in Pennsylvania,” said Ross Tedder, Civic Engagement Coordinator for 1Hood Power. “It shows that despite the way our legislature looks, despite the constant obstruction meant to prevent progress, if you center the needs of the working class, if you center the needs of the majority, you can achieve monumental things.”
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.