Philly updates home repair program

Changes to the three-year-old program come as a pair of new housing initiatives take shape at the state level, including the Whole Home Repair Program, which is designed to help lower- to middle-income residents pay for repairs needed to keep their properties safe and inhabitable.

Under the program, passed by lawmakers as part of the state budget, eligible homeowners can apply for grants of up to $50,000. Small landlords can apply for the same amount in the form of a forgivable loan.

The initiative will have a $125 million budget in its first year. In March, state Sen. Nikil Saval, who introduced the legislation behind the program, said it could take up to $1 billion to fully fund the initiative, which also calls for workforce training and additional support staff who can help participants coordinate their repairs.

A provision of a separate program, signed into law this week, allows municipalities to offer property tax abatements for home improvements — if 30% of the housing on site meets the initiative’s affordability requirements.

In September, Philadelphia is expected to mail out new property assessments to homeowners — the first in three years due to the pandemic-related issues.

Those values, which increased by an average of 31% for residential properties, mean many residents will be paying more in property taxes, potentially making necessary home repairs more difficult to finance.