Need home repairs? Help is available to older Philadelphians

Alicia Colombo

By Bill Conallen


Victoria Huggins Peurifoy, 70, lives in an old Germantown home that’s full of character and memories. It’s where she wants to stay for the rest of her life. But the home needs repair for her to safely age in place.

Many other older Philadelphians live in homes that require repairs or modifications to make them accessible. Grab bars, ADA-accessible ramps and railings can make a huge difference for an aging resident, but they come at a price that older adults with low incomes may not be able to afford.

“Home repairs can make all the difference to the health and safety of countless older adults throughout the city,” said Mark Myers, director of facility operations and housing programs at Philadelphia Corporation
for Aging (PCA). “These changes allow older Philadelphians to live a full and independent life in the place where they want to continue to live – their home.”

Programs that offer help with home repairs and modifications can provide the assistance needed to help older adults remain in their homes as they age. Philadelphia has a wide variety of services and programs available to give aging residents and homeowners a hand with the costs of maintaining a home. Some of these programs may have a long wait time due to high demand.

Minor repairs
PCA’s Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program (SHARP) provides minor home repairs and modifications to the homes of income-eligible older adults. Homeowners over the age of 60 with a structurally sound home can take advantage of this program. For services to be free, residents must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. If residents have a higher income, they may receive these services on a cost-sharing basis. Repairs through SHARP may include installing railings, intercoms or grab bars; and repairing or replacing wooden basement steps, electrical fixtures, or leaky faucets and toilets. To inquire about PCA’s SHARP program, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

“We have seen an increase in need over the last few years and even have developed a waiting list for our SHARP initiative, which emphasizes the importance of early application when it comes to home repair assistance,” said Myers.

Older adults with permanent disabilities can receive assistance with home modifications and repair to allow for more independent living through the Adaptive Modifications Program. Administered by the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC), this program is available to anyone who owns a structurally sound home or who lives in a rental unit where the owner allows modifications. Some of the modifications provided by the program include railings, exterior wheelchair ramps and lifts, and widened doorways.

Systems repairs
The PHDC also administers the Basic Systems Repair Program (BSRP), which provides emergency electrical, plumbing, heating and roofing repairs to eligible Philadelphia homeowners. Repairs may address leaking or broken sewer lines, dangerous electrical conditions, and roof leaks. Applicants must provide basic personal information and proof of the emergency prompting the request. For more information or to apply, call at 215-448-2160 or go to phdcphila.org. For free preventive maintenance, repairs and cleanouts of heaters, call PHDC’s Heater Hotline at 215-568-7190. Oil burners, gas valves, thermostats and chimneys are a few of the heating-related home parts that are eligible for repair through the program.

Providing repairs and revitalization to middle-income neighborhoods that are often overlooked, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia’s Middle Neighborhoods Initiative works block by block in Northwest Philadelphia. Using both in-house contractors and subcontractors, the program offers free repairs to older homeowners. Work includes energy efficiency improvements, systems repairs, structural repairs and accessibility improvements. The Middle Neighborhoods Initiative seeks to provide relief on a block-by-block basis. To apply, residents must have at least 10 total eligible homeowners in need of repairs on their block to apply. For more information, call 215-965-0777 or RebuildingPhilly.org.

More help will soon be on the way for older Pennsylvanians thanks to recent legislation designed to aid homeowners grappling with costly home repairs. The Whole-Home Repairs Program is being developed to benefit low-income homeowners and property owners in Pennsylvania. The program guidelines are being created now and are expected to be available in late 2022 with the program opening in 2023.

“This new program is just another sign that, as our population grows older, the need for comprehensive efforts so that older adults can remain as independent in their homes for as long as possible will become an increasingly important priority,” Myers said.


Bill Conallen is the public relations specialist at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.

Categories: Housing Milestones eNews

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