Philly nonprofit that provides free home repairs seeks contractors

Mike DeNardo
July 23, 2019 - 1:56 pm
David Thomas

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Plumbers and roofers wanted: A Philadelphia agency that fixes the homes of the needy is looking for contractors.

At one point, there was a three-year wait for people who qualified for free home repairs by the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation. The backlog was reduced several years ago with $60 million in bond funding from City Council.

PHDC President and CEO David Thomas says the work is essential.

"Without the service that we're providing here, I can't imagine what Philadelphia will be faced with."

With an aging housing stock in a high-poverty city, there's plenty of work. The problem, he says, is a shortage of plumbers, roofers and general contractors, Thomas says. He said he has 20 plumbers now, but he'd like 40. 

"The challenges that I'm foreseeing right now, in terms of plumbing, is capacity. I don't see a lot of plumbers out there. I've not gotten a lot of responses from plumbers."

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He says there's about a one-year wait for plumbing services now. He says PHDC pays market rates, but he speculates that smaller contractors may not be lining up for work because of the insurance and workers compensation his agency requires.

"It could be a lot of our requirements. Because I'm a government-funded and -affiliated organization, I have requirements that a lot of contractors, small businesses, just don't necessarily have."

He said a larger stable of contractors would allow the Basic Systems Repair Program to do work faster.

"I know the demand is there. That's not going to change. How we attack it and how we address it, that is what I'm concerned about. The more contractors that I have available to deal with the demand, the faster I can get to it. I don't want another three-year backlog."

Thomas said he's especially looking for small contractors who are looking to do more business, while helping their neighbors in need.