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Team Effort Secures $5 Million for Built To Last - THANK YOU!

On June 6, Mayor Parker and City Council passed the 2025 Philadelphia city budget - including $5 million dollars for the Built To Last program that was not in the mayor’s original budget! (You can read press from Whyy here and here, from the Inquirer here, and from Council here.) If you’ve been following months of PSR PA newsletters, rapid action emails, and documentary screening invitations for the short doc we created with Hunting Park Neighborhood Advisory Committee and the Sierra Club, you’ll know that we’ve been a part of a multi-organization effort advocating for funding to expand this pilot program that provides home repairs for low income homeowners, while weatherizing, electrifying, and adding rooftop solar power. With a successful track record but also over 1,000 families on the waiting list, this (and much more) funding is desperately needed now.

We wanted to thank you for your work as part of this effort and share some key takeaways from this success. We were told we were successful because we got broad support across City Council. Here’s how:

  1. Direct action gets things done.

When YOU join in a coordinated effort to call the Mayor’s office or City Council members, or you show up for a hearing, or join a protest or other in-person action, you contribute essential energy that activates the people in power. If we each put in what energy we can, the result is that we cannot be ignored, because our representatives have heard from us multiple times in multiple ways. Health professionals added a uniquely powerful voice to this campaign through your response to our rapid action emails and other news. Thank you!

  1. Participation from a wide range of community members in a broad, active coalition.

The Philadelphia Energy Authority, the office that created and administers BTL, educated PSR PA and other allies about the program through the HERE 4 Climate Justice coalition, and we shared that information with our communities. We prioritized getting word to traditionally underserved communities through the short documentary. Spreading information built the network of invested advocates. Partners like our friends at PhillyThrive, located in a deeply-rooted South Philly community where many neighbors could benefit from this funding, were especially strong leaders in the effort, both in activating their own community and new partners, and in spearheading many actions in their bright yellow t-shirts. We shared expertise and maximized our own skills and strengths while supporting one another. 

  1. We educated our politicians with repeated messaging in line with legislators’ goals.

Instead of leaving it to the Philadelphia Energy Authority to argue for their own funding, the HERE 4 Climate Justice Coalition organizations met with as many council members as we could, describing why we support the program as a justice initiative, an anti-gentrification tool, a sustainability initiative that prioritizes low income homeowners, and as an energy saver. We backed up our words with evidence of the pilot program’s success and the stories of the people we had spoken to who had already benefited from the program. Over and over, we tied our words back to the council members’ and mayor’s stated priorities.

As our Communications Director Kate Krauss noted, “Direct action gets the goods.” We can keep applying these lessons as we move forward, educating our legislators on why transitioning PGW away from gas, opposing new hydrogen operations, and prioritizing solar energy especially for low income homeowners are indispensable parts of greening Philadelphia and a healthier Pennsylvania. We can also build on this success to argue for funding again for  the statewide Whole Home Repair program that was based on Built To Last. It received funding in 2022, but was not funded for its second year; Governor Shapiro and the General Assembly have now another chance to provide this desperately-needed resource to our communities.

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