VEAZIE, Maine — Help is on the way in four Penobscot County communities for financially strapped residents who are coping with unhealthy home environments.
Veazie Town Manager Bill Reed said last week that the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development has announced it will provide $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for a program that will fund repairs and improvements in the homes of Veazie, Holden, Old Town and Penobscot Indian Nation residents who have health-related problems in their homes but can’t afford the needed improvements.
The group of communities collectively applied for the grant, with Veazie agreeing to serve as the lead applicant, Michael Bush of Penquis said during a regional public hearing in late March required as part of the application process.
“We are proud to be the leader on this grant, which will help many families in the Greater Veazie area,” Reed said last week after learning of the grant award.
Penquis helped coordinate the application by working with Veazie officials. Bush said earlier that the goal is to fund about 25 repair projects through the program.
By partnering with towns, Penquis will be able to bring resources to the area that otherwise wouldn’t be available since only municipalities can apply for CDBG funds, Bush said just before the application was submitted this spring.
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.
He 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.