Western Maine Community Action’s (WMCA) Housing Services program recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for our first WMCA Community Home Replacement Program project in the town of Chesterville in Franklin County.

WMCA has struggled with a way forward for years with the many substandard low income homes that exist in Franklin County that we have been unable to serve through our federal energy conservation and home repair programs due to their “walk away” status.  These homes typically have the highest energy burdens, highest energy usage, and some of the lowest of income in our federal Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) community that WMCA serves.  Energy conservation and home repair measures can only be installed into homes where a benefit can be realized and where the home has enough integrity to warrant the investment of public funds to reach these energy reduction savings for these homes.

These issues point to three challenges facing Maine:

  • Maine is considered one of the “oldest” states in the nation and has some of the oldest housing stock in the country and will need to deal with the issue of our elderly long term care and the substandard homes in which they live, especially when linked to the high public cost of residential care costs;
  • Dependence on carbon related fuels will continue to place a growing burden on families, businesses and communities, especially our low income households;
  • Energy smart building needs trained workers with an understanding of the larger impact each home could have on our environment and ways in which to reduce these impacts through proper building techniques.

Western Maine Community Action will be working with the Mt. Blue High School Foster Career and Technical Center (Foster CTE), a local vocational school, to build a home that is age friendly, energy star rated, based on a healthy home standard, and meets Maine MUBEC building codes so that the project can be replicated throughout the state.

The WMCA Community Home Replacement Program is intended to be a continuing program with each project having a school year “turnaround” project timeline aimed at addressing the challenges outlined above by working with the community to solve these issues and by increasing public understanding and adoption of modern, high efficiency construction techniques used in residential housing.

Our participating homeowners will see energy cost savings along with living in a safer, warmer, and dryer home that is age friendly.  The broader community will benefit by reducing the overall carbon footprint of the existing home, and by keeping seniors safe from health hazards in their replacement home, thereby helping to reduce the potential future costs of long term care of income challenged seniors.

We are thankful for the wonderful media coverage given to the groundbreaking ceremony. Please follow the links below to read the articles.

  1. The Daily Bulldog
  2. The Franklin Journal