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Richmonders prep their homes for cold weather: ‘We are being proactive’

Photos: PHOTOS: Snow blows through Richmond
Posted at 4:42 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 18:42:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Employees with Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities are providing weatherization kits to senior citizens this week.

On Tuesday, Rhonda Johnson and her team sat outside the North Avenue Library on the city’s Northside handing out the kits to residents 65 years and older.

“We also know that cooler nights and days are coming ahead,” said Johnson, DPU’S spokesperson. “We just want to give seniors an extra boost, get them ahead of the game so when they do have to start heating their homes they can conserve on the cost.”

The boxes contain window and door sealant, caulk, outlet covers, an LED lightbulb and window shrink wrap.

“You’d be surprised about the amount of cold air that can come into a home if it’s not properly insulated,” Johnson explained.

She encouraged families and neighbors of senior citizens to help with the installation process.

“We definitely want to make sure we are being proactive,” Johnson stated. “Check on your neighbors and your church family. We just want everybody who knows a senior and loves a senior to look out for them and help them.”

Seniors who are 65 years and older can pick up a kit on Wednesday at Southside Community Service Center at 4100 Hull Street from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Another opportunity is scheduled for Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at East District Initiative at 701 N. 25th Street.

Kits will be left at the facilities for those who cannot make it to those events. Senior citizens can also call (804) 646-4646 to have a kit sent to you.

Additionally, CARES utility relief applications will be available at these events for any customer that has fallen behind on their utility bills because of an economic hardship due to COVID-19, according to a press release.

Friday is the deadline to apply for CARES utility relief and can cover city water, wastewater or natural gas utility bills for services over the last 20 months (March 1, 2020, through November 1, 2021).

City leaders planned to assist their residents beyond temporary repairs and fixes.

The city’s director of Housing and Community Development announced a new plan to help low and moderate-income families with home repairs during Mayor Levar Stoney’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing.

Soon, the city will use American Rescue Plan Act funds to create the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program joining three non-profits that use federal entitlement funds to send contractors out to homes and make repairs.

“They currently have 1,600-plus people on a waiting list and waiting for home repairs,” Director Sherrill Hampton explained. “Really that need is so great the assistance is delayed sometimes over five years.”

Once the program is operational, her office will work with code enforcement and the city’s health department to ensure healthy and safe homes.

“Housing is health, and we cannot assure the conditions that allow people the opportunity to be healthy without safe and stable housing,” said Dr. Danny Avula, health director of Richmond-Henrico Health Districts.

Hampton said they also intend to work with landlords to make repairs to rental properties, especially those who utilize Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s housing choice voucher program for low-income families.

“Through this, we will be able to work with local or area contractors to provide some of this work, so mayor, we will also be adding to the creation of wealth and sustaining small businesses,” Hampton stated.

A timeline for the program was not announced, but Hampton said it will be established after the city works out some processes.