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Low income homeowners can get help paying for energy efficient home improvements

Workers install windows at a home on Dickinson Street.
Beth Adams/WXXI News
Workers install windows at a home on Dickinson Street.

As wind gusts of 40 miles per hour ripped through her back yard and wind chills dipped into the thirties Monday morning, Joyce Vereecke didn’t seem to be bothered by the cold.

The northeast Rochester resident was smiling as she watched workers install new windows on her two-story home. Earlier this year, a new furnace and water heater were put in and the home's sewer was replaced after the original one collapsed last spring.

Vereecke, who lives in her Dickinson Street home with her two daughters, couldn’t afford to have all of that work done. When her home flooded last spring, a neighbor suggested that she contact NeighborWorks Rochester, a nonprofit that collaborates with several other organizations to offer grants to low income residents to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

Vereecke doubts that she would have remained in her home if the funding hadn’t been available.

"We probably wouldn't still be here,” she said. “We had two, three inches of water in the basement, so yeah; we probably wouldn't be in the house."

So far this year, 25 Rochester homeowners have qualified for the energy conservation program.  And its benefits are not limited to the city.  PathStone Corporation provides grants to homeowners in the inner ring suburbs and rural towns in Monroe County.  Since 1990, PathStone has provided funding to replace insulation, furnaces, ventilation, and made other improvements to over 4,000 homes owned by low income and senior residents, as well as those with disabilities.

Leonard Skrill of the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal, another partner in the collaborative, said this frees up more disposable income for homeowners.

"The resident will have decreased heating and electric bills that will make them better able to avoid the choices between having a safe, affordable home and food and other expenses that low and moderate income people face."

Homeowners who want to know if they qualify for the program can start by asking for an energy audit through Action for a Better Community, NeighborWorks, or, if they live outside of the city, PathStone Corporation.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.