Over the next three years, Connecticut is expected to receive $64 million dollars of federal stimulus money for the weatherization of low income housing. Governor Rell's office says more than 600 new jobs will be created as homes around the state are made more energy efficient. Laborers eager for these job opportunities wonder when the state will release the money for the projects
As part of the stimulus package, the Obama administration is committing $8 billion dollars to get low income housing ready for winter. Work like reparing roofs, windows, and installing insulation. It takes a certain set of skills. and you have to be certified to do the work. So where do you go? All the way to Connecticut's quiet corner, the unlikely town of Pomfret.
"Well there's different types of insulation, Congressman. For instance, you get into the typical what we're all familiar with is fiberglass..but if you come over here we can show you cellulose......."
That's instructor, John DeCecco explaining insulation to Congressman Joe Courtney.
Courtney is getting a tour of the New England Laborers Training Academy to see how workers are learning weatherization techniques in advance of stimulus dollars.
The instructors at the Academy also have questions for Courtney, specifically what's the hold up in getting states to release stimulus funds for the weatherization work? Courtney says Connecticut, like other states, had been waiting for wage standards just recently released by the federal government.
"Well, I mean the initial chunk I know went to the Department of Social Services cause we had been on the phone with them saying 'cmon, now is the time to get people out working.' And again they used the Davis Bacon wage as a hold up. Although nonetheless that's a moot point now now that the standards are out there. The whole point of this was to get people to work, exactly"
After the tour, Courtney elaborates that weatherization projects should move faster than other stimulus projects like infrastructure.
"This is really quick work. This is not work that should take a lot of time. It doesn't involve heavy duty design or engineering like the Niantic river bridge, that's a huge, a 100 million dollar project."
The state has only received $6.4 million dollars, just 10 percent of the money allotted to Connecticut.
But none of that money has been spent even though the check came in late Spring.
Department of Social Services Deputy Commissioner, Claudette Beaulieu insists the state is moving as fast as it can given the fact the federal government just approved Connecticut's plans for the money on August 15.
Beaulieu says with the approval in hand, local contractors can expect to be hired for these weatherization jobs starting next month.
"We have sent out contracts to several of our community action agencies. and I expect them back any day now. And once those contracts are signed we can actually start distributing funds for the weatherization of households."
Local contractors will also get work through the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development which is working with the state's public housing authorities. The DECD will distribute $19 million dollars to these authorities over the next 3 years to contract out weatherization work on state owned housing stock. However, Beaulieu is not sure when request for proposals will go out for those jobs.
The fact some stimulus money has arrived in Connecticut is welcome news to workers like East Hartford resident, David Boyd. Boyd learned weatherization skills at the New England Laborers Training Academy last July and he's still waiting for work.
"Release the money for the weatherization so guys like me who's really trying to get a job in weatherization or construction in general so I can take care of my family."
He's currently working at a local cinema.