Westmoreland County has the money and low-income homeowners lined up for a house repair program.
But officials can’t find anyone to do the work.
“We’ve put out 400 emails and sent out 325 direct mailings and have gotten zero response,” said Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Brian Lawrence of the county’s efforts to hire contractors for the program. “This is a critical program. We have $1.6 million to spend within the next year.”
The Whole Home Repair program will make fixes for homeowners in need. Officials said the program is designed to prevent residences from becoming blighted and targeted for demolition.
The program will pay for replacements of roofs, gutters, downspouts, windows and doors. Homeowners who earn up to 80% of the median income in the county qualify for the government-paid repairs. A family of four with an annual income of up to $75,000 is eligible for the program.
Lawrence said finding applicants has not been an issue. About 135 applicants are in line to potentially receive home repairs. The county has enough money on hand to work on about 67 homes; projects will be capped at $20,000.
No contractors have come forward to do the work.
Lawrence said county officials will continue to seek out contractors and post job requirements and requests for proposals on the county’s website.
Officials put out a call for home inspectors in September and over the last two months have hired three to review and assess the scope of work that is needed at an applicant’s residence.
“We’ve got the projects. We’ve got the money and we’ve got the home inspectors. The missing piece is the contractors. This is uncharted waters,” Lawrence said.
Both larger and smaller contractors are being solicited to work on the projects; funds must be allocated by the end of next year. The money has to be spent before the end of 2026, but officials said they want the work to be finished in 2024.
“This program is essential. We want to keep people in their homes and keep these properties from being blighted. We just have a short time frame to get it done,” Lawrence said.
Jason Rigone, Westmoreland County’s planning director, said finding contractors to perform the relatively smaller-scale projects has become a challenge because of labor shortages.
“We understand there are a lot of requirements to participate, but this is an opportunity. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of getting the word out,” Rigone said.