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Home weatherization assistance available

Thursday, November 17, 2011

With the cost of heating oil increasing an average 84 cents in Maine since last winter and federal heating assistance expected to be cut in half in York County alone, local nonprofits are offering to weatherize people's homes for free this winter.

Led by the United Way, Keep York County Warm is still taking applications from homeowners who could benefit from this service, with one round of weatherization slated to take place next month and a second in January.

Now in its second year, the program is intended to help people who cannot otherwise afford to have simple caulking, weather stripping and storm window installation done to their homes. The program does not involve adding insulation.

Although last year's participants had to meet federal poverty guidelines, that criteria was eliminated this year. Applicants do have to list their income and number of people in the household.

"We're saying that we want to help those in need, and we find that's who is applying," said Whitney Guthrie of York County United Way.

Residents from Kittery and Eliot are joining people from other towns in the county in this round, although last year people from York were also helped.

"Another thing to keep in mind, a lot of people are hurting because of the economy. They may have been making money a year ago, but they have no money now," she said.

The money for the weatherization kits and storm windows comes from a variety of sources, including local service clubs, churches and individuals.

United Way is taking applications through Friday, Nov. 18, for the current round of weatherization work. On Saturday, an assessment will be done of each home selected for the program, to measure windows and doors.

In December, the work will be done by high school students.

The United Way gets referrals for the program from York County Community Action, general assistance programs in several towns and the Southern Maine Agency on Aging.

Guthrie said many of the participating homeowners are elderly.

"They're still living in their own homes but they're having difficulty making ends meet. And with LIHEAP (federal fuel assistance) funding being cut in half, they're facing a tough winter," Guthrie said.

Those who are interested in applying for the program, or who would like to volunteer or donate to the program, can call the United Way office at (207) 985-3359 or visit and click on the Keep York County Warm link.

Deborah Mcdermott