MICHIGAN CITY — The City Council is considering a plan to spend $300,000 to help low-income residents fix up homes so they can qualify for a federal weatherization program.
Lee Hoss, weatherization manager for North Central Community Action Agencies, said his organization uses federal grant money to seal air leaks, insulate homes and conduct other energy efficiency repairs for single-family and multifamily homes.
Some homes, however, have leaky windows or roofs, so they don’t qualify for the federal program. The city’s money would handle those repairs so the homeowners can qualify for the federal help.
“If you need new windows but your roof is leaking, you get nothing,” council President Michael Mack, D-3rd.
The $300,000 would help 25 to 30 homeowners stay in their homes, Hoss said. Some homes might need the roof patched rather than replaced.
Councilman Bryant Dabney, D-1st, brought the issue to the council. The weatherization team does a full inspection of the house. Homes that don’t qualify because of all the heat and cool air escaping are put on a deferred list. “Basically they’re out” because they can’t pay for the necessary repairs, he said.
If the council approves the funding soon enough, the work could be done yet this year, Hoss said.
The council could use riverboat funds for the work, council attorney James Meyer said.
Councilman Sean Fitzgerald, D-4th, asked if American Rescue Plan money from the federal government could be used. That’s theoretically possible, Meyer said. But is COVID-19 a factor in not being able to afford to replace leaky windows or a roof?
“I think we should take a closer look as to how we can help this organization without going straight to the riverboat fund,” Fitzgerald said.
The council tabled the memorandum of understanding until the next meeting.