This sector includes very different housing types, such as large multi-family buildings, small apartment buildings and single-family houses. These residential buildings may be owned by city agencies, private landlords, multi-family affordable housing developers and individual homeowners. In Philadelphia, 42% of homeowners are generational, meaning their home was inherited— sometimes without a mortgage and with significant deferred maintenance. There are robust waitlists for public housing and homelessness prevention/home repair programs, and healthy home intervention programs are dramatically underfunded.


Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Energy + Resiliency ESCO project 

In May 2016, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (“PHA”) Board of Commissioners engaged Johnson Controls Inc. for energy, water and audit services and for implementation of energy performance contracts. JCI is currently in the auditing phase to develop appropriate scope. They have focused on hiring PHA residents and emphasized Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises participation. PHA’s project is targeting 20,000 public housing units, including both multi-family and scattered sites. This is one of the most innovative energy projects attempted by any housing agency nationwide, incorporating climate resiliency in addition to energy efficiency.

PEA is providing support to ensure use of local, skilled labor with an emphasis on minority involvement, to assist PHA’s efforts to integrate with existing utility programs, and to support the addition of solar wherever feasible.

City Council Housing Preservation Initiative

City Council recently passed an increase to the Realty Transfer Tax of 0.1% which will generate enough revenue to support Council’s Housing Preservation priorities. Council released a bond in May 2017, focused on $60 million to be used to eliminate the waiting list for the Basic Systems Repair Program (“BSRP”), the Weatherization Assistance Program (“WAP”), and the Adaptive Modification Program (“AMP”). PEA encouraged Council to take another step and add $40 million additional for the Restore Repair Renew Home Preservation Loan Program to address fundamental home repair issues for those just above the income limits for the existing grant programs and fill in the gaps in existing repair services.

PEA participated on three Housing Preservation committees: Grants, Loans, and Repairs. Our priority is to apply this one-time infusion (via municipal bond) of unrestricted funds in a way that substantively impacts poverty and affordable housing in Philadelphia. In particular, we are advocating for a program that would allow for a hybrid of grants and loans on a sliding scale, and that would re-define repair measures to include high efficiency HVAC and water-heating equipment, building insulation and energy-efficient windows, in addition to the air and water sealing currently provided via WAP. We believe that the loan programs should address all measures that are available through existing grant programs. Existing grant programs should incorporate energy efficiency and health whenever they touch a home.

We expect this loan program will address some issues but not all. PEA also collaborated with the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (“PHDC”), which administers BSRP, WAP and AMP to analyze the existing wait list and generate recommendations to manage the backlog quickly and efficiently.


Multi-Family Housing Pilot

One of the key target groups for the Energy Campaign is multi-family affordable housing developers. Multi-family buildings have unique features, financing structures, opportunities and requirements when it comes to energy efficiency. We assembled a team for a multi-family pilot project, which is serving as the model for scaling up across Philadelphia. The implementation partners for Phase 1 of the Multi-Family Affordable Housing Developers Pilot are Mission First Housing Group, Friends Rehabilitation Program, BlocPower, CMC Energy Services, Stratis IOT, PECO Energy, and Philadelphia Gas Works. Phase 1 included auditing of the Mission First Housing Group and Friends Rehabilitation Program properties, totaling 189 units. CMC Energy Services collected key data on the properties and installed utility-funded measures to address electricity and gas consumption. Along with the energy conservation, CMC and Stratis IOT installed networked smart thermostats, which now allow BlocPower to collect aggregated and anonymous data on the conditions that tenants experience, which is assisting BlocPower to refine their recommendations for larger investments in energy conservation.

It is the implementation of the conservation measures, that will create jobs for subcontractors who specialize in energy efficiency implementations, to include lighting upgrades and controls, repair & replacement of HVAC, roofing, window replacements, water pipes.

Philadelphia Housing Photo Essay

As PEA participates in conversations with public and private entities and agencies to develop programs that support the preservation of existing, affordable homes, we want to shed light on the types of homes we are discussing, and the conditions that exist in both owned and rented low and moderate income housing in Philadelphia. We began a photo essay project with local photographer Jordan Baumgarten to begin to document the types of home repairs and affordability issues common to our unique city. We are deeply grateful for the willingness of participating residents to let us share images of their homes. We hope the project will inform dignified, helpful policy and program ideas to improve the quality of life for all Philadelphians.

This photo is the first intended to be a part of a larger series.