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Agency has federal funds to reduce some Clay families' home heating and cooling costs

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The St. Johns Housing Partnership has federal stimulus funds available for emergency home repair and weatherization for elderly, disabled and low-income families in Clay County.

The federal funding ends in February, so the agency is seeking out applicants.

"It is important to let folks know this free service is available," said spokeswoman Malea Guiriba.

Past clients, she said, "no longer have to make choices about paying electric bills or buying prescription medication. It can make a big difference in the lives of families who are struggling."

John Johnson of Middleburg, who is disabled and living on Social Security, had a gamut of problems in his single-wide mobile home, from holes in the walls to electrical problems in the kitchen, but could not afford to get them fixed.

He heard about the St. Johns Housing Partnership program from a friend, applied and in less than two months received about $5,000 worth of repairs and improvements, including new dry wall, solar screens on the windows and water heater wrapping.

His monthly electricity bills have since dropped $35 to $40. He said he "highly recommends" the program.

"I'm real happy with what they did," he said.

The $1.8 million the partnership has allocated in Clay County over the past 12 months has also boosted the local economy by providing home repair and weatherization jobs for struggling construction businesses.

"In numerous cases, small companies that might have gone under have been able to keep their employees working and their doors open," Guiriba said.

Energy efficiency measures performed through the program include air sealing (weather-stripping, caulking), wall and ceiling insulation, heating system improvements or replacement, efficiency improvements in lighting, hot water tank and pipe insulation and refrigerator replacements with highly efficient Energy Star rated units. Average energy cost savings top 20 percent, according to Guiriba.

Households with incomes at or below 60 percent of state median income, in single-family or multi-family buildings, are eligible.

Services are available to homeowners and renters, with priority given to senior citizens, families with children and people with disabilities.

The partnership is based in St. Augustine but administers the weatherization program in St. Johns and Clay counties.

Beth Reese Cravey 
Jacksonville.com



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