State Senator Nikil Saval (D–Philadelphia) and Berks Stands Up brought together residents, community leaders, and elected officials Wednesday afternoon in Reading’s Centre Park in a united call for the passage of Pennsylvania’s Whole-Home Repairs Act (SB1135), 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.
Wednesday’s event is part of a week of action, with similar events happening throughout the state. Pennsylvania has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, and hundreds of thousands of people across the Commonwealth are living in homes that are unsafe because they can’t afford to make repairs.
“Housing security is not an urban or suburban or rural issue. Housing security doesn’t fall along political lines. Every person has the right to a home that is safe and healthy, and right now, in counties across our state, people are denied this right because they don’t have the resources they need to repair their homes,” 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!”
Watch the full press conference here: https://fb.watch/bYxr8Td6li/
Introduced 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 to meet demands in this swiftly growing field.
“Every day I wake up in a home with lead paint and leaky windows knowing that my landlords do not have the funds to fully remediate them in our historic building. Now I wake up feeling lucky that’s all I am dealing with as we’ve seen an increase in housing fires and evictions,” said Celine Schrier, Local Organizer for Berks Stands Up. “Today I am sounding the alarm on our housing because we are being forced to live with the consequences of decades of disinvestment from our state and federal government. We need the Whole-Home Repairs Act now. Our health, safety, and security will not be put off any longer.”
The Whole-Home Repairs Act has bipartisan support in the Pennsylvania Senate, and champions at all levels of government. Parallel legislation is being introduced in the Pennsylvania House by State Representative Sara Innamorato (D–Allegheny County).
“Reading is home to a lot of older homes that have been standing for over 100 years that are beautiful and one of a kind,” said Senator Judy Schwank (D–Berks County), an early co-sponsor of the Whole-Home Repairs Act. “With the nationwide housing shortage we are facing, we can’t afford to let any homes slip into a state of disrepair. Whole-Home Repairs will ensure that Pennsylvanians in desperate need of housing repairs have a lifeline and allow some of the older homes that give our community character to be renovated to meet the needs of the modern homeowner.”
“As a father of young children, a homeowner in a 100-year-old home, and as a Spring Township Supervisor, I applaud Senator Saval’s efforts to improve the standard of living for all residents, urban and rural, younger and older,” said Jess Royer. “It is through policies and efforts like this that Harrisburg can have a positive impact on residents all across Pennsylvania.”
The campaign for the Whole-Home Repairs Act is supported by numerous community partners across the state who are on the frontline in the fight for housing security.
“Everyone has the right to a safe and healthy home, but this is not the reality for our communities,” said Johanna Guitiérrez Fortuna, Member-Leader of Make the Road PA. “I was forced to move out of a dangerous house because my landlord did not want to pay for the necessary repairs for my family to live safely, and I am paying the consequences financially. When the Whole-Homes Repairs Act becomes law, renters like me will be able to live in better conditions.”
“As socialists, we believe no one should be forced to live in unsafe conditions due to slumlord and state neglect. We’re backing our comrade Nikil Saval’s Whole-Home Repairs bill so we can create good union jobs addressing the climate crisis and making our homes safe,” said Andy Scheirer, of Berks DSA. “Workers make this state run, and it’s time for our state government to invest in us and our planet!”
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.
“As a renter, I often struggle with getting maintenance needs meet. You either are forced to fix it on your own or suffer in silence because they won’t respond,” said Deena Stoudt. “Tenants need better options to ensure their homes are safe and the Whole-Home Repairs bill is the solution for this problem.”
“We can fight housing scarcity, community displacement and instability, and the deterioration of our homes all at once by passing the Whole-Home Repairs Act,” said Senator Saval. “Pennsylvania can be a leader. We can make a historic investment in our communities.”