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Philly Program Aims To Help Low, Middle-Income Residents With Home Repairs

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — To help keep people in their homes, and prevent neighborhoods from falling into decline, a housing preservation program is ramping up in Philadelphia. It will help thousands of homeowners with maintenance and repair issues.

More than 7,000 Philadelphians are on three to five year waiting lists for assistance programs for free basic home repairs, like fixing their roofs, according to Council President Darrell Clarke.

“If you have a bad roof, it’s the beginning of the end,” Clarke said. “The water goes where it needs to go.”

Most of the backlogs are in Olney, Logan, Tioga and Nicetown.

To pay for it, last year City Council approved a fractional increase (0.1 %) in the real estate transfer tax to service a $100 million bond issue.

Standing in front of a home getting attention on a tidy side street in Olney, Councilwoman Cherelle Parker says home preservation allows low and middle-income folks to keep their homes both affordable and habitable.

“These residents get a chance to see tax dollars at work in their neighborhoods,” Parker said.

She calls them “the heart of our tax base.”

While Philadelphia’s home ownership rate (52.9%) is higher than the average big city, more than a third have household incomes under $35,000, the second highest low-income homeownership rate among the 30-largest cities.

The program is expected to generate 1,000 jobs for the city’s small contractors, many of them minority and women owned.

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