VEAZIE, Maine — Despite some reservations about how much staff time it might involve, town councilors voted 4-1 on Monday night to seek a federal grant to fund a new program that aims to address problems in unhealthy home environments.
The program, which would be funded by a Community Development Block Grant, would provide assistance for those who have health-related problems in their homes but can’t afford the needed improvements.
Veazie, Holden, Old Town and the Penobscot Indian Nation collectively are seeking up to $300,000 in CDBG funds to implement the program, Michael Bush of Penquis said during a regional public hearing required as part of the application process. About 20 Veazie residents as well as representatives of Old Town and the Penobscot Indian Nation were in attendance.
Penquis is helping to coordinate the application by working with town officials in Veazie, the lead applicant for the funding, Bush said earlier. He said Monday that the goal is to fund about 25 projects through the program.
By partnering with towns, Penquis hopes to bring resources to the area that otherwise wouldn’t be available since only municipalities can apply for CDBG funds. Bush said Monday that the fact that the application is a regional one could boost its chances of being approved.
Bush said what’s innovative about the program is that it makes a direct connection between home repairs and a specific health diagnosis, for example mold from a leaky roof and asthma or the potential for falls with unsafe stairs.
Bush said the concept for this approach grew out of a partnership with the Healthy Homes Asthma Project, a home-based asthma program developed by Bangor Health and Community Services. Referrals to the program come from area doctors who believe home visits can provide families ways to better manage asthma.
Area agencies including Penquis, Bangor Health and Community Services, Eastern Area Agency on Aging and Community Health and Counseling have agreed to make referrals to the home repair program.