A call for contractors in Philly
The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation is in need of more plumbers and roofers to help deal with its remaining backlogs, which still have wait times of up to a year.
Philadelphia is one of the country’s oldest cities. That gives it a charm unlike most in America, but underneath its mesmerizing antiquity is a layer of deterioration affecting the lives of thousands of Philadelphians.
From lead pipes in need of replacement to faulty roofs lacking repair, there’s plenty of work to go around.
The organization in charge of that maintenance since 1965 has been the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC).
“Philadelphia has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation and unfortunately, we also have one of the highest poverty rates in the nation,” said PHDC Executive Vice President David Thomas. “The combination of the two, hence, creates the need for the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation and the preservation services that we provide.”
Before 2017, PHDC’s major problem was finding funding for their work, but after a $60 million influx of cash courtesy of City Council, a new issue of finding contractors has emerged.
Thomas pinpointed plumbers and roofers as the organization’s most needed contractors.
Currently, PHDC has 20 plumbers to spread the work out, but it’s not enough considering a backlog of “well over a thousand” jobs, according to Thomas.
“I could certainly use another 20,” he said.
Spreading more than a thousand jobs across 20 contractors means a current wait time of 12 months. But that’s nothing compared to PHDC’s past, where wait times often reached three years and costs could never be predicted.
“What we’ve seen is over that three-year period that folks have waited, the cost that we estimated it to be at that time, it doubled,” said Thomas.
He hopes to avoid that again in light of the lack of contractors.
There is a similar backlog for roofing repairs, which on average take half a year to complete. Thomas said Philadelphia’s flat-top row homes present a unique challenge compared to slanted roofs.
“No one goes up there to check, everyone assumes it’s good, but by the time you find out it’s bad, it’s a little too late,” he said.
Plumbing and roofing fall under PHDC’s Basic Systems Repair Program, but the organization also offers Weatherization Assistance and Adaptive Modifications programs, which help set up energy efficient and accessible installations in Philadelphia households.
All three programs offer the services for free.
To become a contractor with PHDC, depending on the program, applicants must usually fill out either a request for proposal or request for qualification. However, because of the low response rate, Thomas said PHDC is looking for any contractor with interest to reach out.