CIRCLEVILLE — If your home needs repairs or improvements Pickaway County Community Action (PICCA) might be able to help.

PICCA offers several programs that can aid in roof repairs, weatherization, energy conservation, and other upgrades to homes for both senior citizens and those that rent or own their home. The programs come with a maximum income between 50 percent and 200 percent of area median income (AMI). For a family of four 50 percent of AMI is an income of $39,000 per year.

Mark Mills, home weatherization assistance program (HWAP) and energy coordinator at PICCA, shared a number of options for the disabled, elderly and income eligible people.

“There are 13 different programs that we can pull from,” Mills said. “One program is for 60 years old and older with no income guidelines that we use for bathroom renovations and wheelchair ramps. We have another, our home weatherization assistance program which is one of our bigger programs, can put hot water tanks, furnaces, stuff like that in your home. We can do pretty much anything but windows.”

Another option for residents is the potential to save money on their electric bills by undergoing a free energy audit by PICCA.

“Our Electric Partnership Program (EPP) allows us to come into your home and look at your refrigerator and if it qualifies we’ll replace it for free,” Mills told The Circleville Herald. “We’ll look at your light bulbs and replace them with LEDs that last way longer than they others and are more energy efficient. It also doesn’t cost [the property owner or renter] anything. With that program they have to be an AEP client or a Dayton Power and Light client.”

For Columbia Gas clients, Mills said they have a program to help lower bills and make the home more comfortable.

“It works the same way as our HWAP program does and we can even combo it with it,” he added. “The more things we can combo, the more money we can put into a house. If someone qualifies for the program we can put all of them into a house.”

According to Mills, some clients received approximately $13,000 in upgrades to their homes last year.

“It really makes a difference for some people,” he explained. “When we do the insulation part of it the homeowner sees the savings right away. With the HWAP program we try to block the air from coming in and get them energy efficient appliances. It works really well.”

Becky Hammond, PICCA Executive Director, shared the importance of these programs.

“People on a fixed income or with low income, it can make a huge impact on their lives to get their energy bills down,” she said.

Mills noted that contractors working on these houses have to have specialized training which can be difficult to find so PICCA is offering grants to help offset those costs.

“That takes a lot of training and we’re always looking for contractors and inspectors because they’re hard to find in this state,” Mills continued. “That’s our dilemma, if we lose a contractor it’s hard to find another. The training is in Athens and they do all the training there. We can help out with it because that’s what we’re finding out is that they can’t pay their employees to train there and that’s where we can step in to help pay for it.”

There’s not a lot of awareness on the programs that PICCA offers in this area, according to Mills; and they do outreach especially in the western part of Pickaway County.

“I’m trying to hit the Northwest part of the county near the prison, they go to Grove City and we can help them a lot,” Mills communicated. “It’s a dual area for Fayette and Pickaway. I’ve knocked on doors and people aren’t sending applications back.”

Hammond said she wants people to know PICCA isn’t an agency that will inspect and then shutter their home.

“We’re there to help, not to shut down their house,” she said.

Mills echoed Hammond’s thoughts.

“The goal is to save the residents money and keep them where they are,” he said. “Last year we had a lady who we tried to help but were a little too late and she had to sell her house unfortunately. That’s one thing we want is to keep people where they are at.”

PICCA is available at 740-477-1655 for more questions or information about the programs.

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