Weatherization Assistance Program Available for Low-Income Residents
The program is administered by Hillsborough County.
As summer temperatures remain high into fall, so do energy costs, but a local program can help homeowners keep their monthly energy bills low.
The Weatherization Assistance Program at theTampa-Hillsborough Action Plan provides free energy-related repairs and energy upgrades to eligible, low-income homeowners in Hillsborough and Polk counties.
The program hires local contractors to service homes whose entire households are within 200 percent ofthe poverty guideline. Some of the services provided are weather stripping, caulking and other energy-efficiency updates. The focus is on energy conservation and saving low-income residents money on utility costs, with the help of local contractors.
U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and Bronze Star recipient, Tony Furnaro, and his wife, Francesca, learned of the program through relatives in New Orleans where a similar opportunity was available. Shortly thereafter, they began the process of qualifying, scheduling inspections and the actual renovations.
Stunned to discover their home’s deficiencies, the Furnaros were fortunate to receive extensive weatherization upgrades including attic insulation, a new water heater, ductwork, caulking, window repairs and air leaks in the home patched. They even needed an exhaust hood/fan above the stove in the kitchen.
“The work was done efficiently and correctly,” said Furnaro. “When they ran into a problem with one of the windows, they even had the factory representative of the manufacturer come to the house to make sure it was done right.” As a result, the family’s energy bills have been slashed in half – a welcome savings in uncertain economic times.
Josh Fuller, a general contractor and owner of Fuller Construction Group, is one of the licensed contractors who perform the work on homes that are renovated through the Weatherization program. He became involved after learning of the program through a continuing education seminar. Fuller sees the program as an opportunity to keep his employees and subcontractors busy and in business at a time when ground-up construction has slowed down.
“Through the weatherization program, we’ve worked on homes that really needed energy upgrades,” said Fuller. “For example, a water heater that’s 15-20 years old may no longer heat water … or worse, it runs all the time. Either way, a family is either dealing with no hot water in their home or having huge utility bills.
“We know there are families out there who need our help,” added Fuller. “The clients are so appreciative. When they see me, they know the work is about to begin.”
Residents who are interested in the program should visit the Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan’s Weatherization Department and have their Social Security card, driver’s license, Proof of Home Ownership, six months of current utility bills and proof of income with them to fill out their application and quickly find out if they are eligible. All information is held in the strictest confidence.
“We are glad to help those eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program in our community,” said Travis Sewell, Weatherization Program director at the Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan. “These funds will not last forever, so we encourage anyone who is eligible to contact our office and seek out these free services.”
As a result of the American Recovery Reinvestment Act or Stimulus Act of 2009, the Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan has weatherized some 600 homes and created or retained more than 120 construction-related jobs in Hillsborough and Polk counties.
The Weatherization Assistance Program is helping low-income Floridians all over the state. For more information, contact the Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan. Interested Hillsborough County residents can call 813-626-4926; residents of Polk County should call 863-519-4444. Online, visit www.FloridaCommunityDevelopment.org/WAP.