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Home » Pennsylvania’s new home-repair program is one step closer to helping homeowners and landlords – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania’s new home-repair program is one step closer to helping homeowners and landlords – The Philadelphia Inquirer

On Dec. 12, counties can start applying for more than $120 million to help residents repair and weatherize their homes.
Homeowners with low and moderate incomes in Montgomery County, one of the wealthiest counties in Pennsylvania, have to wait two to three years for assistance from the government-run program that helps struggling residents repair their homes. Limited funds and capacity are major barriers.
Preserving aging houses is one of the pillars of the “Homes for All” plan the county adopted last year to build and maintain homes for low- and middle-income residents. As housing costs continue to rise and counties across the region deal with the loss of affordable housing from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, “it’s been a very tough three to five years,” said Kayleigh Silver, administrator of Montgomery County’s Office of Housing and Community Development.
» READ MORE: Philadelphia’s affordable housing strategy depends on repairing existing homes
“We know preservation is a critical component of keeping homes affordable in Montgomery County,” she said.
That’s one reason county officials are excited about new funding coming through the Whole-Home Repairs Program, a state initiative to make homes safer, accessible to people with disabilities, and more energy efficient. It also trains workers for construction-related jobs. The $125 million allocation, funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act and a budget surplus, represents the largest investment state legislators have made to improve the quality of homes in recent memory, according to legislators.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has announced that on Dec. 12, counties or county-designated organizations can begin applying for funding. The state will review applications on a rolling basis through Jan. 31.
“The Whole-Home Repairs Program was born from the notion that no one should be denied a home that is safe, a home that is healthy, simply because they don’t have the resources they need to fix them,” State Sen. Nikil Saval (D., Philadelphia), prime sponsor of the legislation that created the program, said in a statement.
» READ MORE: How three new housing policies could help Philadelphians with home repairs and affordability
Counties will use funds to create and/or run grant and loan programs. Money for home repairs and weatherization will be targeted to low-income homeowners and small landlords.
Grants of up to $50,000 will be available for homeowners making up to 80% of the area median income, which is about $76,000 for a household of three in the Philadelphia region.
Small landlords are eligible for loans of up to $50,000 per rental unit if they rent homes at prices that are affordable to tenants making at or below 60% of area median income. That’s a maximum income of about $57,000 for a household of three in the Philadelphia area.
Funds also will go toward workforce development programs that connect trainees with jobs related to improving living conditions in homes. Investments can include cash stipends for trainees and paying for apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
Counties can apply for portions of more than $120 million.
The formula to calculate how much money each Pennsylvania counties is eligible to receive is based on factors that include Census Bureau data on median income by household size, the age of housing stock, and the number of households that meet certain income limits.
Counties must opt into the program and not all are expected to apply. Any funds that counties do not claim will be redistributed to counties that applied.
Philadelphia is eligible for an initial amount of $20.9 million. Montgomery County can get $6.1 million, followed by Delaware County at about $4.6 million, Bucks County at $4.5 million, and Chester County at about $3.2 million.
Applicants have to describe their approach to spending the funds and estimate how much they will spend on home repairs, technical assistance, and workforce development.
Applications for homeowners to request funds are scheduled to open in the spring. The hope is that homeowners will start receiving funds for home repairs and weatherization in the spring or summer, according to Saval’s office.
Timing depends on several steps that have to happen first. The Department of Community and Economic Development released its guidelines for how counties can apply last week. After the state awards funds, counties will have to roll out plans, which may require hiring staff, and figure out how to spend money within existing programs or create new ones.


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