Good News for Homeowners and Renters

Finding affordable housing is a challenge for many people in our community. Rising rents, costly improvements to older homes, and a lack of available units has led to a housing crisis here – not just in West Philly, but all over Pennsylvania. Many families are stuck spending more than half of their income just to pay for housing! This means that sometimes families are forced to make hard choices and skip buying necessities like food or medication, and certainly can’t save for an emergency.  

This year there is some help. 

Pennsylvania is making a $375 million investment to help our communities address the affordable housing shortage. It’s paid for with the American Rescue Plan money President Biden and Vice President Harris delivered last year. 

I fought hard for these investments in the state budget because our communities are stronger when people feel safe, secure, and healthy in their homes, and that affordable housing should be available to anyone who needs it.

The initiative has three programs that aim to: 1.) help families and landlords repair aging homes to keep them safe, 2.) offset the costs of developing multi-family rental units, and 3.) incentivize the construction of new affordable housing. 

First, the Whole Home Repair Program is a first-of-its-kind $125 million investment to help residents stay in their homes by offering grants of up to $50,000 for low- and moderate-income homeowners to make needed repairs to ensure their homes are safe and healthy to live in. Homeowners may also make energy efficiency upgrades, which can reduce monthly utility costs. 

Small landlords are also eligible for loans under the program to make similar improvements to affordable units that they rent. Not only will the Whole Home Repair Program keep more people in their homes, but it will also enhance property values and fight blight in our communities.

Guidelines for the program are being developed and expected to be available in late 2022, with the program opening in 2023 – I’ll keep you posted right here in the West Philly Journal.

The second two programs will help create more affordable housing in our communities. 

A $150 million investment for the Development Cost Relief program will be used to help counteract the high costs to develop affordable multifamily rental properties. These increased costs were spurred by the pandemic and can discourage the development of multi-family units. An additional $100 million is earmarked for an Affordable Housing Construction program, which will provide grants for the development of affordable housing units, including new units, rehabbing existing properties for affordable housing construction, or preserving existing affordable housing for low-income tenants.

I was so pleased to stand with Governor Wolf when he visited Philadelphia last month to celebrate this historic investment that will make a difference for our neighbors and our communities.

Finally, there is also great news for people who qualify for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Pennsylvanians who are approved for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2021 will receive an additional one-time bonus rebate equal to 70% of their original rebate amount! That’s hundreds of dollars more back in your pocket to spend how you want.

Some recipients have already started to receive their increased rebate. The deadline to apply is Dec. 31. To find out if you qualify for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program or if you need help applying, stop by my office Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 52 S. 60th St., or give us a call at 215-748-6712.