Pennsylvania Offers $50,000 Grants to Low-Income Homeowners for Repairs


The Epoch Times

State Sen. Nikil Saval speaks in Lancaster, Pa., at a rally promoting more funding for Pennsylvania’s new Whole-Home Repairs Program on April 21, 2023. (Courtesy of Saval’s staff)

In Pennsylvania, where the median income is $68,000 per household or $38,000 for individuals, taxpayers are giving low-income homeowners and landlords up to $50,000 for home repairs.

Homeowners will get grants and landlords with affordability restrictions will get loans.

The state legislature passed the Whole-Home Repairs Program in the summer of 2022 with $125 million in funding which is currently being rolled out to counties where the funds will be administered and distributed to qualified applicants.

Homeowners may be eligible for grants of up to $50,000 to repair, update, and adapt their homes if they live in a home that needs a qualified repair and have a household income of no more than 80 percent of the area median income to be set by the county.

Among other things, funding could be used to modify the home of a person with a disability by adding grab bars in the bathroom, a bedroom to the main level, a ramp, or widening doorways. Repairs could include bringing a home up to public health or fire code or removing asbestos, mold, pests, or lead.

Applications are expected to open in the summer of 2023.

“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,” Democrat state Sen. Nikil Saval said in a statement. “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.”

Demand for the program is expected to outpace available funds quickly, Saval’s office said in a statement. His office makes a case for taxpayers paying for repairs in the private homes of low-income homeowners.

“The health of an individual home is critical to the health of the community. And so we really view this as a community safety measure in addition to just helping the people who live in that home,” Natasha Cahill, Saval’s communication director, told The Epoch Times. “In urban communities where we have row homes, one home will affect an entire block. And we’ve heard from our colleagues who live in rural areas that it’s the same there too. This is a whole state investment because creating stability in one individual home helps to create stability within the whole community.”

Because it is budget season in Pennsylvania, funding for next year is under discussion. Supporters held rallies around Pennsylvania Friday promoting the program and seeking a funding increase to $300 million in the 2023–2024 budget and to make this funding permanent in the following years.

“The Whole-Home Repairs Program allowed lawmakers to act on the fact that our Commonwealth’s housing stock is infrastructure,” said Rev. Dave Bushnell of Power Interfaith in a statement. “It’s not just bridges and roads, it’s the places where people live, and we need to invest in these homes to keep people safe, to keep them secure, and to keep them in neighborhoods that they have lived in for years. This program is a first step, and we need continued funding.”

A collection of over 60 primarily left-leaning organizations signed a letter supporting the program.

“The lack of resources to repair and maintain one’s home is an intractable and deadly epidemic across our country,” the letter said. “Pennsylvania is the first state to take meaningful action, providing a model for other states to create and administer their own Whole-Home Repairs programs.”

Based in southeast Pennsylvania, CASA is an organization that advocates for policies for immigrants and Latino communities in Pennsylvania. Jose Velez of CASA spoke Friday in Lancaster to support more home repairs program funding.

“I have seven children. With a lot of effort and sacrifice, my wife and I bought a house to give our children stability. The house we bought had deteriorated, and we haven’t been able to make repairs. My son has lead in his blood,” Velez said. “My neighbors in my community are experiencing the same deficiencies in their homes. It would be a great hope for us to have more money for the Whole-Home Repairs Program so that we can make changes to our homes and give our children and families a better quality of life.”

Democrats are widely behind the program, but it is unclear how Republicans feel. The Epoch Times asked Kate Flessner, spokeswoman for the Senate Republican Caucus, where Republicans stand on the program.

“This program will receive examination as part of the process to complete the 2023–24 state budget. The Senate Republican Caucus is focused on a budget that respects taxpayers, protects jobs, and keeps Pennsylvania on a prosperous path for future generations,” Flessner told The Epoch Times in an email.

(Original Link) – The Epoch Times