Washtenaw County will be able to weatherize about 600 low-income homes within the next three years, starting April 1, thanks to a $4.2 million grant from the 2009 federal stimulus package.

According to Aaron Kraft, the county’s weatherization program coordinator, the county usually has an annual budget of approximately $350,000, which covers about 100 homes.

As a result of the weatherization, Kraft said homeowners could see up to a 20 percent reduction in their utility bills. In addition to extra change in their pockets, homeowners will benefit from more comfortable and higher valued homes.

The millions of dollars in funding will cover all of the costs the program needs to run, including the costs of installing insulation, home inspections, equipment and employing staff.

According to the Michigan Department of Human Services Community Services Policy Manual, in order to be eligible for the funding, a household’s annual income has to be less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Based on these regulations, the annual income of a family of four would have to be less than $44,100 to qualify for low-income housing benefits.

Kraft estimated that about $4,500 will be spent on each home that qualifies, but that can vary depending on the state of each house’s insulation.

“Some homes will be relatively new, and won’t need as much work,” he said.

Earlier this year, Ann Arbor City Council members listed the weatherization of low-income housing as one of their top priorities if the city was to receive stimulus funding.

Councilmember Leigh Greden (D–Ward 3) explained that City Council is hoping to receive funding for the city’s low-income public housing. This recent backing from the stimulus package will only go to non-public low-income housing.

However, Greden believes that some of the county’s grant will benefit the city.

“I believe that some of the money can be used by the city to conduct a capital needs assessment of our public housing facilities,” Greden said.

Capital needs assessments enable city officials to learn about the current status of public low-income housing.

Congressman John Dingell (D–Dearborn), who represents the 15th congressional district of Michigan that includes Washtenaw County, expressed his approval of the funding for the county in an e-mail statement.

“I was pleased to support money for weatherization in the stimulus package, as well as the energy packages Congress has passed in recent years,” he said. “I have long supported these funds as a way to help people make their homes more energy efficient and thus more cost effective. Moreover, weatherization is a key piece of the climate change puzzle.”

Nationally the weatherization program has historically received $200 million. The 2009 stimulus package has added an extra $5 billion.

“As we move forward,” Dingell wrote, “I will continue to express my strong support for these programs.”

Employment Training and Community Services is the local agency that will coordinate and distribute the funds within the county. The funds originated in the U.S. Department of Energy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.