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Date February, 2009
Client Women’s Community Revitalization Project
Length 12 pages

issue brief

Effectively Preserving Philadelphia’s Workforce Housing Stock

May 8 worked with leading state, regional and city housing organizations to create a strategy around preserving Philadelphia’s existing occupied housing. Eighty percent of Philadelphia’s homes are over 40 years old, 12% are in substandard condition and more homes are loss to age and deferred maintenance than to foreclosure. This white paper was the result of a year-long discussion with Commonwealth Housing Development Corporation, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, NeighborhoodsNow, Pennrose Service Company, Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, and the Women's Community Revitalization Project.

Philadelphia has a vast supply of occupied homes affordable to its lower wage workforce but many are in poor condition and require significant repairs and improvements or they will go offline within five years. Where low-income homeowners can not afford to make repairs, a cost-effective public investment of $7,000 under the Basic Systems Repair Program (BSRP), can in many cases prevent residential abandonment and keep the workforce housing viable. The cost to the city of not repairing these occupied homes is up to six times greater. This is because once a family moves out of a deteriorating house the public bears the cost of demolishing the home, sheltering the family, or caring for children, elderly and disabled family members. This paper makes a set of recommendations designed to preserve workforce housing stock. Improvements to BSRP, integrating the city’s home repair and weatherization programs, introduction of deferred loans to owners with sufficient equity, consistent code enforcement, targeting of housing repair funds and better integration of funding from federal, state and city resources will positively impact neighborhoods.