New grant adds $375 million in state funds to target repair of crumbling homes in Pa.

The money comes from federal COVID recovery and will be dedicated to preserving and restoring crumbling homes that threaten to displace families in need.

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at a press conference in Wynnefield, Pa. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at a press conference in Wynnefield, Pa. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Elected officials took a victory lap in Wynnefield for a hard fought win in Harrisburg.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes drove home the point that there is more money in the state budget than ever before for housing assistance.

“The state of Pennsylvania was spending $55 million on housing, now they are spending $435 million on housing,” he said.

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The money is from federal COVID recovery dollars, but State Sen. Nikil Saval believes it is money well spent.

“Pennsylvania has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation and right now hundreds of thousands in the commonwealth are denied a home that is safe,” Saval said.

State Rep. Jordan Harris believes the money will be used to preserve and save housing stock.

“It’s routine to get your roof done,” he said. “For folks in my community it’s a death sentence to preserving generational wealth. That’s why this is so important.”

Pa. State Rep. Jordan Harris speaks at a press conference in Wynnefield, Pa. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Armando Jimenez of Make the Road Pennsylvania says the whole home repairs program will offer a one-stop stop for home repairs and weatherization.

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“This program is the first of its kind in the nation, making it so Pennsylvanians can stay warm, safe and dry in homes they can afford.”

State Rep. Morgan Cephas noted that the event was held outside an affordable development for senior citizens, and she hopes that more of the developments can come throughout the state so people can age in place along with doing necessary repairs on crumbling homes to keep older Pennsylvanians living in their neighborhoods.

“Not only are we stabilizing neighborhoods, but we are growing communities,” Cephas said. “And this is just a minor example of what we can do. Again, those home repairs, when we talk about middle neighborhoods like Wynnefield, we’ll be able to keep individuals in their homes because of those minor repairs that will help them, again, create efficiency, create stabilization in their homes.”

Pa. State Rep. Morgan Cephas speaks at a press conference in Wynnefield, Pa. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Pa. Gov.Tom Wolf traveled from Harrisburg to be at the event. He said Democrats would not give up on the additional housing money, even though the budget was late getting passed.

“Right now, especially, people are living paycheck to paycheck,” Wolf said. “The financial upheaval of the past several years has been especially devastating for people all across the country and all across Pennsylvania. And we know that Pennsylvanians have been hit really hard by that. And in part right now, as a result of the pandemic, many Pennsylvanians are struggling to make ends meet. And safe, affordable housing is essential for life of any kind.”

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at a press conference in Wynnefield, Pa. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The governor elaborated on specifically where the extra federal recovery money would be spent.

“Our investment included $125 million for the Whole Home Repair Program, $150 million to help offset higher development costs due to the pandemic. And $100 million for affordable housing construction,” he said.

The budget also includes $140 million in rent relief and property tax relief, which amounts to an over 70% increase in those programs. Wolf said people who qualified in the past for the relief won’t have to do anything, “Just sit back and wait for your check to come and it will be 70% bigger than it was last year.”

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