Stimulus funds for weatherization moving forward, but slow - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/4/10

Stimulus funds for weatherization moving forward, but slow

By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Texas has millions in stimulus funds to help people cut their energy costs, but only seven homes had been weather-treated by the end of November. Texas had spent $1.8-million of the $163-million available over the past four months, and most of that went toward administrative costs.

State leaders say they know it's slow going, but they want to make sure there's no waste or fraud. They also say federal red tape has been a problem.

The Department of Housing and Community Affairs is tasked with distributing the money to local agencies. Here in Lubbock, the Community Development Department is in charge of how that money will be used.

"We've already been trying to gear up to do that. We have put out for contractors to bid on the items that we're going to do," Interim Community Development Director Phyllis Brown said. 

Brown tells NewsChannel 11 they received about $2.4-million for weatherization projects in 2009. She says usually they receive around $7,000 from the state, so it's a huge difference.

While crews are doing a lot of work behind the scenes, we wanted to know when projects would start in our area.  Brown tells us they have around 100 cases assessed, and they hope to have council approve contracts later this month or early next month, and while the department is within the city, they'll oversee projects in all of Lubbock County.

"We're hoping to do anywhere between 20 to 40 cases a month," Brown said.  She says the money comes with more regulations which is extending the process. Still, she says those being helped really appreciate it.

"They're very excited; I think sometimes a little frustrated because the wheels sometimes turn a little slow, and we do have like 495 people on the waiting list right now for the program," Brown said. 

Brown tells us they're scheduled to receive additional money for 2010, and they'll have until early fall of 2012 to spend it all.  She says they hope to be able to offer more help in the summer.

"Once we kind of go through those, we'll probably be taking names again in June if it looks like we can add people to the list," Brown said.  She says they also plan to hire three more people to help speed up the process.

(Click Here) to learn more about the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs-Weatherization Assistance Program

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