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Feds fund program to keep heat in, cold out of Baltimore homes

Low-income families in Baltimore will get some help keeping their heating bills low this winter thanks to federal legislation that provides $15.7 million for a citywide weatherization initiative.

Mayor Shelia Dixon announced in June that some 700 families over the next 3 years will receive assistance keeping the elements out of their homes and, consequently, their energy bills down. The process of weatherization has been shown to reduce energy consumption by as much as one-third.

Funding for the weatherization project comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law in February by President Obama. The law is designed to provide assistance and relief the communities and families that are struggling financially and to bolster investment in initiatives that create jobs and promote the stability of the economy.

"Today is the beginning of a movement to make the entire city greener and more sustainable," Dixon says. "The weatherization initiatives will ensure that energy efficiency and 'greening' programs are active in every neighborhood in Baltimore."

The initiative is also expected to have a positive impact on the city's workforce, as city employees working on the initiative will earn certification by the Department of Energy to conduct weatherization, according to Dixon. This certification process should add skills to the Baltimore-based workforce and local contractors that meet new federal certification standards.

The city will coordinate the weatherization project with the health department's "Healthy Homes" and lead abatement initiatives, as well as housing rehabilitation programs from the Department of Housing and Community Development and energy efficiency programs under the Empower Maryland program.

Funds coming through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be monitored in quarterly reports by the Baltimore Economic Recovery Team. Reports are available at http://recovery.baltimorecity.gov.

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