Push for More Funding for Weatherization
In Monroe County, more than 1,200 families are unable to properly heat their homes this winter. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter spoke in Rochester Friday about their efforts to request increased funding for weatherization next winter.
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"I needed insulation, I needed windows, my house was very cold," said Santina Parisi.
For some families, heating their home is a luxury.
"I'm in that house forty years. I had old-fashioned windows."
Paying high utility bills as the heat seeps out of every crevice.
"All the drafts come in, I had like blankets on it to keep the air out."
In past years, funding has been steadily declining; the federal government spent $450 million in 2009 compared to $65 million in 2012.
"The notion that you are not able to heat your house but decide between paying the heat bill or putting food on the table is something we do not want people to live in," said Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D).
Action for a Better Community administers weatherization assistance in Rochester. Services include installing insulation as well as replacing windows and heating systems, saving the average household 400 dollars a year. Currently, 1,200 local families are on the waiting list.
"The vehicle for this funding request would be the President's budget which he will pull together and probably submit around February. So we're hoping that he includes $210 million for the weatherization program and $50 million for the state programs," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Gillibrand says the funding pays for itself by decreasing delinquent utility payments and creating jobs for local construction workers like Rodney Washington.
"This is another form of sealant, insulation..."
"There's a continuous flow of people, it never ends, as long as the funding is adequate we can do a credible job," said Rodney Washington, Action for a Better Community.
Santina was on the waiting list for five years. After receiving weatherization services a few months ago, she was able to do her Christmas shopping with the money she saved.
"At this time last year, I was paying $400-something, now I'm paying like $200," said Parisi.
If granted for the 2014 fiscal budget, the money won't be available until next fall, but there will be a lot of families anxiously awaiting a warmer winter.