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Spotlight on Berks County Whole Home Repair Program

by The Berks Alliance

Jul 06, 2023

In 2020, the Berks Alliance hosted a Community Forum in which the Federal Reserve Bank presented its research about access to home improvement loans of $15,000 or less within the Philadelphia District.  Berks County had the highest loan denial rate in the district. Over 60% of all requests were denied. The denial rate was even higher for women, minority and lower income households.  Most of the other regions in Pennsylvania had a denial rate under 50%.

Last year, the Pennsylvania legislature helped address this challenge by enacting groundbreaking legislation to create a program to help homeowners make essential improvements to their properties.  Statewide $120 million was made available to help homeowners make essential improvements to their homes.  Berks County was allocated over $3.6 million.

The county will use this funding to cover fundamental repairs, replacement of a major system within the residence and weatherization of homes and rental units, and to help address issues housing insecurity.  These repairs and improvements can include improving the habitability or safety of a home, improving energy efficiency, addressing water supply issues, major appliances and improving accessibility for people with disabilities.  Homeowners whose household income is less than 80% of the county median income are eligible for forgivable loans. Small landlords, those with fewer than five properties and a total of fifteen affordable housing units, and they rent those units to households below 60% of the county median household income, are also eligible for funding. If the homeowner continues to occupy the property for ten years they are able to have the loan forgiven.

Some counties have included financial literacy education as a component of their Whole Home Repair Program. And some have included support for workforce development programs designed to train targeted workers essential home improvement skills.

The Berks County program will be managed by the Berks County Redevelopment Authority in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.  More information will be available on the Redevelopment Authority website. Join us to learn more about this program.

When: Sept. 25, 2023 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEpceivrzwjG9SSgFmE6y_ltOL6QfrWGkUf 

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