This story originally appeared on Spotlight PA.
The water had been off for seven weeks and his best hope of getting it back on remained just out of reach, so Mike Ramsey swallowed his pride and began typing out one more email begging for help.
Maybe things would go differently this time.
Ramsey, 49, had been brushing his teeth with bottled water, trying to use as little as possible because the cost of buying five or six cases each week quickly added up. Desperate for a shower, he wiped himself down with a damp cloth every few days instead. He hadn’t felt clean in weeks.
“I mean no disrespect and I do appreciate all your help thus far,” he wrote to more than a dozen top officials at the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, which runs a $350 million program that promises to help homeowners recover from the pandemic but has been hamstrung by internal crises.
Before the water was shut off, a program worker had assured Ramsey that his application was under review. Then the program was plunged into a series of upheavals.
Almost fifteen months after hiring a company to run the program, PHFA ended the contract, citing a long list of problems: clunky software, long delays, unfair denials. The agency said it would take over, promising improvements. But state officials did not realize the scale of the problems.
The number of pending applications was three times larger than they initially believed.