Community

Cedar Rapids volunteers looking for homeowners to help

Volunteers clear off a porch that is slated to be replaced during Matthew 25's Transform Week in Cedar Rapids on Wednesd
Volunteers clear off a porch that is slated to be replaced during Matthew 25's Transform Week in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Each year, the nonprofit selects projects for volunteers to complete within the Taylor and Time Check neighborhoods. Homeowners apply to take part in the annual effort during the winter months. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Two local organizations, Green Iowa AmeriCorps and Matthew 25, are looking for homeowners to help.

Green Iowa AmeriCorps is offering free energy audits to residents throughout Eastern Iowa. People can sign up for an energy audit by calling (319) 200-2786 or emailing greeniowacr@gmail.com

To conduct the audit, a trained team of AmeriCorps volunteers use specialized equipment to measure and track air leakage in a home. They then find spots where air is leaking and can perform weatherization — sealing leaking areas with things like caulking and weather stripping. They also test the water heater and furnace and calculate the cost per year lost due to HVAC inefficiencies, as well as provide information on energy savings as well as energy efficient products such as LED light bulbs.

“It’s all meant to be something an educated homeowner could do themselves. We get the information and materials and help people out,” said audit coordinator Yusef Abuissa. “The big things we like to focus on are comfort and energy savings ... You can make the spaces where people are spending a lot of their time more livable, with things like fixing draftiness around the windows and improving flows to the register.”

The service is free, with residents asked to only pay for weatherization supplies. That payment is waived for qualifying households, which include low income homes, seniors, people with disabilities and military veterans.

Green Iowa is based at the University of Norther Iowa’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education, with energy and community volunteers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Dubuque, Decorah, and Des Moines. The Cedar Rapids branch is housed at Cedar Rapids nonprofit Matthew 25’s office, 201 Third Ave. SW.

Matthew 25 is also looking for homeowners to help through its annual Transform Project, which seeks to offer home repair and maintenance assistance to residents of the Taylor and Time Check neighborhoods.

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“My encouragement is always to homeowners to be willing to raise their hands and ask for help. We all know that sometimes things arise in life that make it hard to maintain a home. Cedar Rapids is an awesome community and people want to help others out. You are giving people a gift by allowing them to have the opportunity to help you,” said Matthew 25 executive director Clint Twedt-Ball in a news release.

In 2019, more than 325 volunteers worked on 22 projects in the Taylor and Time Check neighborhoods, taking on everything from building handicap accessible ramps to replacing windows and doors to repairing and painting siding to landscaping.

The organization is looking to repeat the efforts in 2020, with homeowners invited to apply for assistance. The deadline to submit project applications is Feb. 1, 2020. Eligible applicants must own their home, earn under 80 percent of median income ($71,450 for a family of four in Cedar Rapids) and live in the Time Check or Taylor neighborhoods. Applications are available at hub25.org. Those with questions can call (319) 362-2214. Volunteer registration to help with Transform Week will open in March, 2020.

Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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