Let's Build on What Works to Tackle PA's Housing Crisis

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Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. 

That is increasingly impossible for more and more families in Pennsylvania and across the United States.  A recent report shows a national shortage of 7 million affordable rental homes for the lowest-income households, with our Commonwealth among the most severely affected states -- at only 39 affordable homes available for every 100 extremely low-income households. 

Seventy-one percent of the poorest renter households are severely cost burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on housing, with little left over for other necessities, according to the study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania. Our ministries are stretching to serve the increasing numbers of neighbors experiencing homelessness. Learn more about housing in your county.

We have a proven tool to address this growing concern in our community -- one that Lutherans advocated to create and to fund more for more than a decade.

The Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE), administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority, expands opportunity for people in need and revitalizes communities. Funded through a portion of the PA Realty Transfer Tax (RTT), PHARE supports hundreds of projects annually to end homelessness, support home ownership, rehabilitate blighted properties, and provide housing for veterans, the elderly, and re-entry community.

The strength of Pennsylvania's real estate market and corresponding growth of resources from the RTT have made millions in additional PHARE funding possible, but unavailable due to the current  funding cap. At the same time, Pennsylvania is experiencing an affordable housing crisis fueled by the pandemic and exacerbated by increasing costs of housing and construction.
As Christians we are called to care for our neighbors, especially those made vulnerable by homelessness and housing insecurity. Our ELCA social statement “Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All” reminds us that “God has created a world of sufficiency for all, providing us daily and abundantly with all the necessities of life… the problem is not the lack of resources, but how they are shared, distributed, and made accessible within society.”  Homelessness and housing insecurity not only make people more vulnerable to physical and economic hardship, but also increase risk for violence, exploitation and long-term physical and mental health consequences.
Please ask your state Senators to support two bipartisan proposals that have passed the House to tackle the housing crisis in our state -- lifting the cap on PHARE and expanding the Whole Home Repairs Act. 

The Whole-Home Repairs Act aids  homeowners across the commonwealth in making necessary repairs that they cannot afford, both to houses they live in, and to ones they rent out to tenants. These repairs can range from relatively minor fixes such as weatherproofing to major renovations that could keep older homes inhabitable, reduce energy use and save on future health and utility costs. In its first year, the demand for this program outstripped availability, with counties creating long long waiting lists for services. 
Housing construction, rehabilitation and repair have a substantial economic impact, creating up to 200 jobs for every $10 million spent and generating $2.28 for every dollar spent. Local tax bases grow from increased property values, land reuse, new development, and employment opportunities. Furthermore, affordable housing provides the foundation for economic mobility for thousands of individuals and families, breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

Join people of faith across Pennsylvania in encouraging lawmakers to support these bipartisan proposals. Please include a personal note to your lawmakers -- it does make a difference!


  • Your State Senator or Senators


Dear [Decision Maker],

Thank you for your service and your attention to this growing concern in our community.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]
[Your Email]


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