ROYERSFORD, PA — State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, on Wednesday joined Senator Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia) to host a virtual public hearing on the need to improve, expand, and secure adequate long-term funding for home repair programs in Pennsylvania.
“The tragic reality many people and families across the country are faced with is that their houses are old, unsafe, and quite frankly, dangerous. We need to do more here in Pennsylvania to help homeowners access the resources that they need to make necessary home repairs and renovations, as well as ensure landlords are not violating tenants’ rights and ensuring living conditions are safe, clean, and meeting required structural standards,” Muth said. “[The] hearing really opened our eyes to the challenges both homeowners and renters are facing every day just trying to secure a safe and livable space to call home. I look forward to working with Senator Saval, as well as with experts and stakeholders, to ensure that a comprehensive plan to ensure affordable, safe housing and home repair resources in every county of Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation: approximately 40% of Pennsylvania’s housing units were built before 1950. Additionally, statistics show that more than 280,000 occupied units in the Commonwealth have moderate to severe physical inadequacies: a leaky roof or window, blown fuses or exposed wiring, unreliable heat, the lack of a flushing toilet. This deferred maintenance often results in exposure to mold and lead.
“Pennsylvania has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, and hundreds of thousands of residents across the state are currently struggling to hold on to aging homes that are unsafe to live in,” Saval added. “An initiative focused on whole-home repairs will preserve our affordable housing stock, reduce crushing utility bills, and stabilize our communities, all while making it possible for Pennsylvanians to stay safe and comfortable in their homes.”
Senator Saval has proposed legislation to establish a Whole-Home Repairs Fund administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The Fund would allow providers to assess and address homes holistically by creating a one-stop-shop for home repairs and weatherization. Under this legislation, DCED would solicit competitive proposals from nonprofit and public sector organizations seeking to enhance existing programs that would address emergency and necessary home repairs; technical assistance for homeowners and landowners to better coordinate programs and services; and support provided for job seekers enrolled in workforce development programs.
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee heard first-hand testimony from residents in Philadelphia, Lancaster and Perkiomenville about their experiences living in aging housing stock and dangerous rental housing. The Policy Committee also discussed the current challenges facing the Commonwealth’s housing industry and how timely repairs and weatherization efforts can preserve affordable housing, reduce costly energy bills, combat climate change, and create good-paying jobs.
All submitted testimony from the hearing and the full video is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy.
For more information on Senator Saval’s Whole-Home Repairs legislation, visit bit.ly/WholeHomeRepairs.
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