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Cedar Rapids seeking volunteers for new ‘Snow Buddies’ program

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 3:37 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - On Thursday, the City of Cedar Rapids launched the first phase of its “Snow Buddies” program. It pairs volunteers with elderly or disabled homeowners who may have difficulties removing snow themselves.

The first phase of the program is seeking volunteers to help come winter. Volunteers, or “Snow Heroes” must be at least 18-years-old and provide their own snow-removal equipment. They will be paired up with a snow buddy based on location and availability.

The city says they looked to other Midwestern cities for inspiration for the program.

“We really don’t know what to expect as far as this program goes. Being that it isn’t, you know, will be in the wintertime it will require people getting out in the cold,” said April Wing, City of Cedar Rapids Program Manager.

“But we are hopeful. We did talk to a lot of other cities within the Midwest that do have programs like this, and they have had a lot of success as well.”

To be eligible for the free snow removal, homeowners must be 65 years or older and or have a mobility impairment. As well as, qualify under income requirements. A single-person household can only earn up to $31,300. A two-person household can earn up to $38,800.

“We want to ensure that everybody can get around safely, not having to use the streets to get around and just using their sidewalks and avoiding any slips, and being able to travel freely throughout the city,” said Wing.

The program comes as a suggestion based upon the 2019 Pedestrian Master Plan survey. There are also new changes to the snow removal ordinances from the city as well.

“We made some changes to our snow removal on sidewalk ordinance, and from 48 hours to 24 hours. That was part of the recommendations in our pedestrian master plan,” said Wing.

Last year, the city received 628 complaints pertaining to the removal of snow and ice from sidewalks, of those 73 homes were charged abatement fees. New this year, a $35 fee will be charged if sidewalks do not follow code upon inspection. Homeowners may still be charged an abatement fee of a minimum of $313 if the city has to remove the snow for the homeowner under the code.

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