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Cost to Repair Philadelphia Homes Is $2.7 Billion, Study Finds

Many homes in Philadelphia are in need of repairs, and low-income renters are most affected by substandard housing.
December 28, 2019, 7am PST | Camille Fink
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A new study finds that 41 percent of Philadelphia renter households need repairs. The project, a collaboration between PolicyMap and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, finds that the cost to repair all occupied units in the metropolitan area is $2.7 billion and for rental units only is $900 million.

Lack of access to quality housing disproportionately affects the city’s most vulnerable residents, say Eileen Divringi and Eliza Wallace. "The poorest households were the most exposed to substandard conditions: Over 55% of the region’s households with incomes below the federal poverty line lived in units in some level of disrepair."

Understanding the reasons for this underinvestment—whether large, corporate landlords are trying to maximize profit or mom-and-pop landlords lack the resources to make repairs, for example—is important, say Divringi and Wallace.

In addition, they point out that considering the consequences of particular policy strategies is essential to ensuring that Philadelphia residents most in need of safe, affordable housing are not displaced. "In what situations would improving the rental housing stock through stepped-up code enforcement destabilize existing tenants and cause an increase in rents? In what contexts would financially assisting cash-strapped landlords with repairs accelerate the up-marketing of previously low-cost units?"

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Published on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 in WHYY
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