|December 1, 2021 08:34 AM
|Senator Nikil Saval
|All Senate members
|Whole Home Repairs Fund
Every resident of the Commonwealth deserves housing that is warm, safe, and dry. But for thousands of Pennsylvanians, the very place they call home is unsafe. The reality is more than 280,000 occupied units in Pennsylvania have moderate to severe physical inadequacies: a leaky window or a collapsing roof, blown fuses or dangerous exposed wiring, unreliable or no heating, no working toilet or failing plumbing. Deferred maintenance issues such as these have far-reaching societal ramifications. Making home repairs can reduce crime, maintain neighborhood affordability, and preserve housing to be passed on to future generations.
In addition, the widespread need for these basic system repairs presents barriers to making other kinds of cost- and life-saving improvements: adaptive modifications for the elderly and those with disabilities; weatherization to reduce energy burdens for low-income residents. Programs exist to fund these improvements, but there currently exists no way to coordinate them. Because of this, many homeowners, landlords, and tenants go without needed services and eventually lose their homes.
The need to fund home repairs while increasing coordination among all existing programs is profound; the effect of satisfying that need would be equally profound. By building off existing federal, state, and local grant program infrastructure, we can create a comprehensive home repair program for low-income households that will keep thousands in safe housing they can afford, reduce utility bills, stabilize communities by slowing displacement, and create new family-sustaining jobs in the process.
Accordingly, I will introduce legislation that fills crucial programmatic and funding gaps in existing home repair programs. My legislation will create a Whole Home Repairs Fund administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development. The Fund will allow providers to assess and address homes holistically by creating a one-stop shop for home repairs. DCED will solicit competitive proposals from nonprofit and public sector organizations seeking to enhance existing programs through the provision of all the following services:
Much like our properties require maintenance, our public services do, too, and our localities need support if we expect them to deploy millions in federal infrastructure appropriations effectively. This legislation will maximize existing local, state, and federal funding sources and ensure efficient use of these dollars to keep people safe and healthy in their homes. I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this legislation that will enable us to invest in the immediate and long-term health of our residents, our communities, and our economy.
Introduced as SB1135