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:

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