The Home Preservation Initiative is Underway
Healthy Rowhouse Project is pleased to share news of a major step forward in helping Philadelphia homeowners. On May 18, City Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilwoman Cherelle Parker announced that long-awaited $60 million funding for homeowners in need of home repair grants is set for distribution. Mayor Jim Kenney, Deputy Director for Housing Fred Purnell and affordable housing advocates joined Clarke and Parker to make the announcement.
The funding is the result of a $100 million bond issue financed by a 2016 increase in the real estate transfer tax. Clarke proposed that the revenue raised from the modest increase should go toward funding three Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC) programs: The Basic Systems Repair Program (BSRP), Adaptive Modifications Program (AMP), and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The other $40 million is slated to be part of a loan program for families in need of health-related home repair who need access to home improvement loans rather than grants to repair their homes. These programs are designed to assist homeowners who need help paying for much-needed repairs on aging buildings, such as leaky roofs, mold infestation, faulty plumbing and structural damage. Like Healthy Rowhouse Project, this initiative is designed to improve conditions in rowhouses occupied by homeowners and renters with a specific emphasis on homes where disrepair is adversely affecting the occupants’ health.
- BSRP provides free repairs to the electrical, plumbing and heating systems of owner-occupied homes in Philadelphia. BSRP may also provide free replacement of a house’s roof if major interior damage such as a collapsing ceiling is evident.
- AMP funding assists Philadelphians with disabilities so they can upgrade their homes to accommodate wheelchairs or special modifications.
- WAP funding, in addition to fixing existing problems, will pay for weatherization and efficiency modifications that can lower utility bills for low or fixed income homeowners.
Seventy percent of homeowners in Philadelphia reside in rowhouses, and most of these buildings date back to the 1950s and earlier. Many residents of these houses are senior citizens, and many have limited incomes. Rowhouses that have received substandard maintenance and are in poor repair pose health risks due to mold, water infiltration, crumbling structures, and poor insulation. Lower and middle-income homeowners have been waiting for up to five years for grant assistance from the city. Providing such assistance helps homeowners and stay in their homes and their communities—and helps neighborhoods resist the forces of both gentrification and decay.