Employee Nonprofit Partners with USDA and project:HOMES to Make Local Home Improvements
The roof on this home in Melfa was replaced through qualified USDA funding.
Lighting the Way, the cooperative’s employee nonprofit organization, is building partnerships with the United States Department of Agriculture and project:HOMES to help local co-op members make improvements to their homes, making them safer and more energy efficient.
Project:HOMES is the lead weatherization agency in the region, allowing the organization to make energy improvements to homes and apartments in seven cities and 18 counties in Virginia, including Accomack and Northampton. Project:HOMES improves lives by improving homes through energy-conservation work in the home. The organization’s work helps reduce energy loss, lowers energy consumption and improves the health and safety of the home. A home that is made more energy-efficient is also made more afford able. This free weatherization program prioritizes services to seniors, people with disabilities and families with children.
In addition to the weatherization program, Lighting the Way is assisting USDA by helping local cooperative homeowners complete the necessary application process for loan or grant funding for home improvements. Also known as the Section 504 Home Repair program, this provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes, or provides grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards.
In some cases the USDA funding is enabling homeowners to make the necessary repairs to help them qualify for project:HOMES’ weatherization improvements.
“Project:HOMES is very excited about this partnership with USDA and looks forward to helping members that may have gone underserved in the
Years past,” says Brian Burris, utility programs manager for project:HOMES. “This new partnership will allow us to reach more people, and help local co-op members save on utility bills and be more comfortable and safe in their own homes.”
Since partnering in early 2019, the three organizations have completed several home-improvement projects throughout Virginia’s Eastern Shore, with a number of projects ready to start, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is really opening the door for qualifying co-op members to make vital home improvements,” says Amanda Bowen, cooperative billing supervisor and program coordinator for Lighting the Way.
“The pandemic slowed down some of our progress, but we continued to work with co-op members over the phone to get their applications ready to go for when restrictions started to lift,” Bowen says. “Project:HOMES and USDA continue to do what they can on outdoor work and by using health and safety protocols to keep everyone safe.”
To start the application process to see if you qualify for either program, email Bowen or call 757-787-9750 to speak with an A&N Electric Cooperative member services representative.
TYPICAL SERVICES OFFERED:
•LED light bulbs
Repairs that must be completed before weatherization services:
•Major structural repairs
Services rendered are dependent upon an energy assessment by certified staff, as well as current DHCD guidelines.
USDA 504 LOAN AND GRANT PILOT PROGRAM
•Homeowner must occupy house
•Unable to obtain affordable credit elsewhere
•Below 50% of median income
•For grants, be age 62 or older and not be able to repay a repair loan
Repair, improve or modernize the home.
•$40,000 maximum loan amount• $1,000 minimum loan amount
•1% fixed interest rate• Repayment over 20 years
•Full title service required for loans of $25,000 or more
Removes health and safety hazards in the home.
•Age is greater than 62• $10,000 maximum grant amount
•Repayment if property sold in less than 3 years