An unfortunate reality about the condition of some homes in the area has freed up money for weatherization programs conducted through the York County Planning Commission.
The county had intended to use the money -- about $160,000 from federal and state sources -- to weatherize the homes of people who had recently used a crisis program to get an emergency furnace repair or replacement, said Susan McKeever, who manages the program for the planning commission.
Officials prefer to work on the homes of those who have had the emergency furnace work completed because weatherization protects the furnace investment, she said.
But while there were plenty of willing and qualified individuals, their homes fell short of meeting the program qualifications, she said.
"When a home has moisture or mold, we can't work on them," she said. "Making the house tighter makes more moisture and mold growth, so some homes just aren't going to qualify."
What next? From November 2012 through April 2013, the crisis program repaired or replaced 132 furnaces because people had no heat. There were only about 80 for the same period of 2011 and 2012, she said.
With an increasing need so clearly demonstrated, McKeever said she's hoping the program guidelines will change so there's a way to help the people who have water or moisture problems in their homes.
But in the meantime, because so many of their homes didn't meet the requirements, the remaining money must be used on the homes of any income-qualified Yorkers, she said.
Income guidelines slide according to the number of people in a household, starting at $22,980 for a single person to $79,260 for a family of eight.
The process includes weatherproofing measures such as attic and basement insulation, water heater and pipe insulation, weather stripping and caulking and broken window replacement.
The $160,000 is estimated to cover about 25 houses, she said.
State and federal weather programs at work in York County have helped more than 600 people over the past three years. The annual allocation ranges between $600,000 and $700,000, she said.
Why? The weatherization program is designed to improve efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs for low-income families, with priority given to high energy users such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and families with children.
Both owners and renters may apply. No lien is filed against homes, but landlords must share some of the cost.
Specially trained workers complete the weatherization free of charge to homeowners and renters.
To apply, call the York County Planning Commission at 717-771-9870 ask for the Weatherization Program.
-- Reach Christina Kauff man at firstname.lastname@example.org.