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United Way of Lancaster County


Lancaster County’s Whole Home Repairs program won’t reopen without more state funding

In this file photo from April 2023, state Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade El, D-Lancaster, in black and red, and state Sen. Nikil Saval, D-Philadelphia, in tan, join members of CASA and other activists for a photo op at the end of a rally in Penn Square for Whole Home Repairs funding. Saval was the legislation’s prime sponsor. (Source: OUL file)

Lancaster County’s Whole Home Repairs program is now closed indefinitely, and will not reopen to new applicants unless the state provides additional funding.

The program, which provides grants to eligible low-income homeowners to fund essential fixes to their properties, has been closed provisionally since September to allow administrators at the Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority, which runs it, to work their way through a lengthy backlog.

As late as February, they had said they hoped to reopen this spring. That’s now off the table, Michaela Allwine, the authority’s director of housing and community development, told the organization’s board this week.

There are now enough households in the pipeline and on the waiting list to use up all the remaining funding, Allwine said. The authority updated its website to reflect the closure early this month.

Households can still apply to the program if they have an emergency that puts their homes in imminent danger of being unfit for human habitation, such as a broken sewer line or unsafe wiring. For more details, contact program administrator Noemi Martinez at

About Whole Home Repairs

Whole Home Repairs is a statewide program, administered locally by each county. Lancaster County received just under $4 million for it, of which about $2.5 million remains.

The initiative funds projects such as roof repairs, heating or plumbing upgrades, handicap accessibility modifications and so on; that is, work that directly affects fundamental livability.

The repairs themselves are completed by third-party contractors that bid on the work. The authority processes applications, funds the work and provides documentation to the state.

To stretch the money across more households, and to avoid triggering Pennsylvania’s prevailing-wage threshold, the county has capped the maximum grant per household at $25,000. (The state allows grants up to $50,000.) Because of the high current cost of construction, almost all households that are approved are getting the full amount, Allwine said.

As of the end of last year, the authority had received well over 200 applications. It had completed 16 Whole Home Repairs projects and had nearly 70 more in the pipeline.

More funding sought

Whole Home Repairs was launched with initial funding of $125 million in Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 budget; the money came from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Demand has been robust across Pennsylvania — unsurprisingly, given the state’s aging housing stock, much of it occupied by working “ALICE” families and retirees on fixed incomes. In Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, 96% of eligible applicants have been turned down due to insufficient funds, according to Dan Sullivan of the nonprofit Action Housing.

Proponents had hoped to add another $50 million in 2023-24, but the appropriation required authorizing language in the state’s “fiscal code bills.” They were delayed in the budget fight between Gov. Josh Shapiro and Republicans in the legislature; when they were eventually signed, Whole Home Repairs was not included.

The $50 million is now part of Shapiro’s proposed 2024-25 budget; it remains to be seen if it will make it into the final spending package.

Sen. Nikil Saval, D-Philadelphia, crafted the Whole Home Repairs legislation. In a statement, he said counties are reporting “four times, 10 times, and even 25 times more eligible applicants than they can serve. … I look forward to working with my colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle to expand this program.”

Housing advocates say Whole Home Repairs can serve as a model for other states. Early this month, Saval joined U.S. Sens. John Fetterman, D-Pa., and Cynthia Lummins, R-Wyo. to introduce a bill that would implement a national version.