Gov. Shapiro touts $50M proposal for home repairs program in Philadelphia

Lawmakers said demand for the Whole-Homes Repair Program far outweighs current funding

Gov. Josh Shapiro and legislative leaders tout proposed budget investments in the Whole-Home Repairs Program in Philadelphia on March 29, 2024

Gov. Josh Shapiro and legislative leaders tout proposed budget investments in the Whole-Home Repairs Program in Philadelphia on March 29, 2024 Commonwealth Media Services

Standing outside Dominique Young’s recently repaired Southwest Philadelphia home Friday morning, Gov. Josh Shapiro and area lawmakers boasted about the benefits of the Whole-Home Repairs Program and the $50 million proposal in the governor’s budget to further fund the statewide program. 

“We’re helping people stay in their homes, cutting costs, and letting them stay in the neighborhoods that they want to be in homes in the streets and neighborhoods just like this one,” Shapiro said Friday, highlighting the electrical and climate work done on the home. “Sixty percent of all homes in Pennsylvania were built before 1970 and need a whole lot of work in order to keep them up to date. For many folks like Dominique, who love their homes and work hard to care for them over the years, more than half a century of wear and tear is gonna leave an impact on a home.”

The commonwealth’s Whole-Home Repairs program, championed by state Sen. Nikil Saval, received $125 million in funding to help property owners repair and weatherize their homes and support training and pre-apprenticeship programs. 

Young, who had been struggling with electrical, heating and other issues, said once she came across the Whole-Homes Repair program, she filled out the application “so fast it wasn’t even funny.”

“I even had to go to an Airbnb with my kids” due to the lack of heat, Young said Friday. “When I tell you this program is such a blessing, I actually mean it.”

Saval, a Philadelphia Democrat running for his second term in office, said, “Every person has a right to a home that is safe and healthy. 

“This program provides flexible resources to county governments so that they can streamline and expand repair programs, making them easier to use while building out our local workforce and adding new family-sustaining jobs,” Saval added, noting the backlog of repair applications in many counties. “The demand for this program is overwhelming, with counties reporting four times, 10 times and even 25 times more eligible applicants than they have the resources to serve.”

The popularity of Whole-Homes Repair has resulted not only in calls for consistent funding but also attempts to pass similar legislation in other states and at the federal level. Shapiro indicated support for Whole-Home Repairs in his budget, proposing another $50 million investment in the program for the coming fiscal year.

Saval also received praise from fellow lawmakers for his commitment to improving housing affordability and the popularity of the program he put forth in his first term in Harrisburg. 

“Many people walk into office and say, ‘I’m going to do this, do that,’ and promise the world. With all due respect, they don’t do a lot other than talk,” state Sen. Anthony H. Williams said Friday, adding that Saval “went in with a passion to make sure…to do something of consequence for people in marginalized communities.” 

Despite the Whole-Homes Repair program originally passing through the Republican-controlled state Senate, Republican leadership in Harrisburg has pushed back on some of Shapiro’s proposed budget investments. 

State Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward has expressed skepticism about the affordability of Shapiro’s ambitious investments, calling it “a budget of unicorns and rainbows without any real explanation of how we’re going to implement it and how we’re going to pay for it.”

Shapiro argued the need for home repairs is widespread across the commonwealth, particularly in rural areas. 

“It is clear that the need is there. It is clear that this initiative works. It is clear that a few dollars can make a huge difference for families,” Shapiro said. “We’ve got to bring Democrats and Republicans together and do common-sense things like the Whole-Homes Repair (program).”