EIN News Desk: Senator Nikil Saval and Advocates Call for Passage of Whole-Home Repairs Act

Philadelphia, PA − March 21, 2022 − Today, standing with residents, community leaders, housing and energy advocates, disability rights activists, and federal, state, and municipal elected officials, State Senator Nikil Saval (D–Philadelphia) launched his campaign for Pennsylvania’s Whole-Home Repairs Act (Senate Bill 1135), a groundbreaking bipartisan bill that establishes a one-stop shop for home repairs and weatherization while creating new, family-sustaining jobs in a growing field.

Today’s event kicks off a week of action, with similar events happening throughout the state. Pennsylvania has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation.

“Right now, hundreds of thousands of people across our Commonwealth—our constituents, our neighbors, our loved ones—are living in homes that are unsafe because they can’t afford to make repairs,” said Senator Saval, who serves as Democratic Chair of the Senate’s Urban Affairs and Housing Committee. “This is unacceptable. The fight for affordable utilities, the fight for safe communities, the fight for housing security, and the fight for equity and justice are all the same fight. And the Whole-Home Repairs Act is how we come out swinging!”

Introduced by Senator Saval earlier this month, the Whole-Home Repairs Act braids together funding of up to $50,000 for Pennsylvanians to fix their homes, administrative assistance to ensure that applicants are given the help that they need, and support for training and pre-apprenticeship programs to build the skilled local workforce needed for this swiftly growing field.

The Whole-Home Repairs Act has bipartisan support in the Pennsylvania Senate, and champions at all levels of government.

“The Whole-Home Repairs program has great potential and would work well with federal affordable housing investments I’ve voted for and continue to push for in Congress,” said Congressman Dwight Evans (D–Philadelphia). “Helping people repair their homes is a cost-effective way to keep them housed and can reduce crime in a neighborhood, which is another top priority. This program would be a win-win.”

Parallel legislation for the Whole-Home Repairs Act is being introduced in the Pennsylvania House by State Representative Sara Innamorato (D–Allegheny County).

“Pennsylvania has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation and it’s simply not right that folks are forced out of their homes because of normal wear and tear on their house,” said State Representative Jordan Harris (D–Philadelphia), who serves as the House Democratic Whip. “This program will create opportunities for Pennsylvanians to make the necessary repairs to stay in their home and I look forward to working with my colleagues in both chambers to get this legislation to Governor Wolf.”

“If your home is in need of significant repairs, it is not healthy, safe and affordable, and to address the repairs you need resources.” said Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (at-Large), Chair of Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on the Environment. “In order to have healthy, resilient communities, we need the Whole-Home Repairs Act. This will reduce our carbon emissions and address housing affordability and environmental injustice. Thank you to Senator Saval for his leadership on this crucial bipartisan legislation.”

At the event today, Councilmember Gilmore Richardson announced that she and Councilmember Cherelle Parker (9th District), Majority Leader of City Council, are introducing a resolution to call on the state’s General Assembly to adopt the Whole-Home Repairs Act.

Housing and energy advocates have long made the connection between the need for home repairs and weatherization to decrease utility burdens and make it possible for people to stay safely in their homes. But currently, many Pennsylvanians are falling through the cracks. In Philadelphia, for instance, low-income households spend an average of 23% of their monthly incomes on utility bills, and nearly three-quarters of low- and moderate-income homeowners who seek home repair loans are denied by conventional lenders.

“I have been immersed in making the homes of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities energy efficient for over two decades,” said Steve Luxton, Executive Director and CEO of the Energy Coordinating Agency. “As much as we are proud to know that we hopefully will contribute to reducing energy burden in that home, we not uncommonly would not be able to provide any assistance in terms of making the home safer, warm and healthy. The Whole-Home Repairs Act is a significant solution in addressing the most important necessity for all of us, our homes.”

The campaign for Whole-Home Repairs is supported by community partners and residents across the state.

“POWER Interfaith is excited to work with Senator Saval to win passage of the Whole-Home Repairs Act. Our faith traditions recognize the infinite value of all people and inspire us to pursue racial and economic justice on a livable planet,” Reverend Allen Drew, a member of POWER Interfaith and East Coast Regional Organizer for the Climate Witness Project. “This program will heal and restore low-income Pennsylvanians’ homes, improve the health and dignity of their lives, reduce their energy costs, and create jobs, all while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in our shared future. It will be especially helpful for residents of the Hunting Park community where I work because my neighbors are dealing with particularly high rates of home disrepair and energy burden.”

“My community in Grays Ferry deserves the choice to stay in our neighborhood,” said Shawmar Pitts, Strategy Organizer for Philly Thrive. “The Whole-Home Repairs Act will stop the displacement by funding needed repairs, lowering utility bills, and keeping people in homes they can afford.”

“If the Whole-Homes Repairs act becomes law, renters like me could be able to live in healthier conditions and our utility bills will be reduced due to home weatherization support,” said Mildris Cota, member of Make the Road PA. “Renters should not be displaced because landlords don’t make repairs on their homes. With the Whole Homes Repairs Act landlords would be able to apply for loans to make these much-needed repairs.”

Full events listings (including times, locations, and partner groups) for the week of action and more information about the Whole-Home Repairs Act are available on Senator Saval’s website: www.pasenatorsaval.com/WholeHomeRepairs. The full recording of today’s event will also be posted to the website. Additional photographs available upon request.