An $8 Million Boost for NEPA’s Home Repair Initiatives
The non-profit organization NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania has a longstanding tradition of aiding the community through small-scale repair projects. These improvements have been designed to enhance accessibility and safety in homes, particularly for elderly residents.
The state has introduced a novel initiative known as the “Whole-Home Repairs Program,” which promises to provide a significant expansion of the agency’s capabilities. This program will permit NeighborWorks to embark on larger-scale endeavors such as roof repairs and window and siding replacements.
As part of this program, Lackawanna County has been allocated $2.1 million from the state budget. NeighborWorks will be partnering with another nonprofit, the Agency for Community EmPOWERment of NEPA (ACE), to improve the homes of low-income residents.
NeighborWorks President and CEO, Jesse Ergott, has high hopes for the partnership. He believes that the added funding from the Whole-Home Repairs Program will complement their current efforts, offering a more comprehensive and holistic solution for home improvement. Ergott states, “We can layer this on top of accessibility improvements — ramps, grab bars, bathroom modifications — to holistically address the whole home that they’re in.”
ACE, on the other hand, specializes in home weatherization enhancements and workforce initiatives. While the Whole-Home Repairs Program is an entirely new project, Brenda Sacco, Lackawanna County’s Director of Economic Development, says it will reinforce the already successful endeavors of both non-profit organizations.
Governor Josh Shapiro recently announced that the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds the program, which aims to dedicate $120 million statewide to address critical home repair needs and to upgrade Pennsylvania’s housing supply. “So many Pennsylvanians are struggling to keep up with rising prices — we need to make sure people living paycheck to paycheck can afford to maintain their homes so that they’re safe and healthy for themselves and their families,” said Shapiro.
Managed by the State Department of Community and Economic Development, the program will fund improvements concerning habitability, safety, energy, and water efficiency, disabled accessibility, and construction-related workforce development.
The first allocations from the program have been assigned, with Lackawanna County receiving $2.1 million and Wayne County getting close to $331,000. The state plans to hasten funding to other counties as well.
The program’s funds will be distributed in several ways, including grants of up to $50,000 for eligible low-income homeowners, forgivable loans for qualified landlords, and job opportunities in home improvement.
As per Brenda Sacco, Lackawanna County will need some time to finalize agreements with NeighborWorks and ACE and to establish guidelines for the public to apply for funds. Therefore, the commencement of repairs might be a few months away.
In total, under the program, Northeast Pennsylvania counties are set to receive more than $8 million in federal funds, which will be channeled through the state.