Starting a Tool Library

Consider joining the national tool library email listserv where tool libraries from across the US discuss tool library stuff.  You can find out more information about joining at this link:

There’s a really good on-line start-up kit for new tool libraries available here at this link:

In August 2013, Tool Librarians from four libraries across the county participated in a webinar sponsored by the Center for a New American Dream. You can watch that webinar by clicking on this link: Webinar Recording: How to Start a Tool Library in Your Community – YouTube

The West Philly Tool Library uses a software platform called Lend Engine. There is also a lending library software platform called myTurn, as well as one developed by the Southeast Portland Tool Library called Tool Librarian.

In March 2013, the co-founders of Station North Tool Library in Baltimore, Maryland, wrote a very insightful posting about the choices they faced in starting their tool library and how they thought through them.  It’s critical reading for anyone thinking of starting their own library.  You can read it at this link:

Funding for Home Repair

Adaptive Modifications Program free adaptations to the house or apartment of low-income disabled individuals.

Basic Systems Repair Program — free major repairs to electrical, plumbing, and/or heating emergencies of an owner-occupied property.

Weatherization Assistance Program — free weatherization and energy-efficiency improvements to owner-occupied and rental units.

Phone: (215) 448-2160

Restore, Repair, Renew Program — low interest home improvement loans up to $50,000

PHIL-Plus/Mini-PHIL Loan Programs — can be used for home repairs and improvements, and paying off debts, including past due utility bills.

Phone: 215-851-1847

Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program (SHARP) — free repairs where the homeowner is 60 years or older. Includes minor modifications for disabilities.

Phone: (215) 765-9040

Heater Hotline — Free heater repairs for eligible homeowners.

Phone: (215) 609-1443

Home Repair Program — “We select neighborhoods based on need, and spend several years working alongside homeowners in those communities to make the biggest possible impact in stabilizing homes, blocks, and the neighborhood as a whole.”

CAPABLE (Communities Aging in Place -Advancing Better Living for Elders) — a combination of nurses, physical therapists and construction contractors work to make elders more comfortable at home.

Phone: (215) 765-6000 x18

Home Repair for Veterans — discounted critical repairs for veterans.

Phone: (215) 765-6000 x18

Pennvest Homeowner Septic Program — low interest loan available to eligible homeowners who need to repair or replace their individual on-lot septic system OR connection to a public sewer system.

Homeowners Energy Efficiency Loan Program (HEELP) — loans between $1,000 and $10,000 for specific energy efficiency repairs at a fixed-rate of one percent (1%); (APR 1%) for ten years with no prepayment penalties.

PHFA Phone: (855) 827-3466

Rebuilding Together: Block Builds — organized block builds that provide free repairs for 10-25 homeowners who need critical repairs, accessibility modifications and/or energy efficiency updates.

Rebuilding Together accepts block applications from groups of interested homeowners, keeps those applications on file, and notifies the block if or when they are working in the neighborhood.

Eligible homeowners in particular target neighborhoods can also reach out to local community partners to inquire about and submit individual repair applications. Current target neighborhoods and community partners include (Updated October 2021):

  • Haddington – ACHIEVEability – 215-748-8800
  • Dunlap – The Enterprise Center – 215-895-4000
  • Kensington – New Kensington CDC – 215-427-0350
  • Fairhill – HACE – 215-426-8025
  • Strawberry Mansion – Strawberry Mansion CDC – 215-235-7505
  • West Oak Lane – For repairs in West Oak Lane you can contact Rebuilding Together directly at 215-568-5044

Lead and Healthy Homes Program — resources for tenants, homeowners and landlords

Phone: (215) 685-2788

Assistance with Utilities

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) — helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant.

Phone: 866-857-7095

Utility Grant Program — provides financial assistance to low income individuals and families who are facing utility terminations or who have had their utilities shut off.

Oil Assistance Program — provides direct oil assistance for low-income Philadelphia residents who are unable to afford the cost of an oil delivery.

Phone: (215) 814 6837

Credit/Legal/Tax Assistance

Clarifi — free credit and housing counseling, budgeting, foreclosure avoidance, credit repair, home purchasing guidance.

Phone: (215) 563-5665

Philadelphia VIP — provides legal services around titles (free legal questions third Wednesday of the month 5-7pm).

Phone: (215) 238-6333

Community Legal Services — wide-ranging free legal services.

Phone: (215) 981-3700

Homestead Exemption — reduces property taxes for a property you own and live in.

Phone: (215) 686-9200

LOOP: Longtime Owner Occupants Program — reduces property taxes for a property you own and have lived in for at least 10 years where assessed value has increased dramatically.

Phone: (215) 686-6442

Home Maintenance Resources

Use this print-friendly .pdf checklist to keep track of monthly, quarterly, annual, and seasonal home maintenance tasks: WPTL Home Maintenance Checklist