A free public event sponsored by the Chaffee County Housing Policy Advisory Committee on Tuesday, Dec. 11 means that within the next few weeks, some county residents will be living in measurably warmer homes. The information session for homeowners, renters and landlords provided information about free and low-cost resources to make home repairs and weatherize to improve health, safety and quality of living spaces.
“I am so excited to hear that some folks will be getting a more energy efficient house – that’s great on so many levels,” said Chaffee County Housing Director Becky Gray.
“Best of all, we had four people show up who came because they want to use the weatherization program right now to fix up the homes they live in,” said HPAC member and event organizer Paige Judd. “At least three of these people live in mobile homes that will be a lot warmer once this work is done.”
The session featured representatives from the Central Colorado Housing Dept. of the Colorado Council of Governments and from the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. The services provided by the two entities overlap in three central Colorado Counties – Chaffee, Lake and Park Counties. The home repair and weatherization services are available through several income qualifying programs. In Chaffee County, CCH can offer home owners home repairs, accessibility improvements, even septic system upgrades or fire mitigation based on incomes of 80 percent of the area media income, or up to an income of up to $53,850.
The NCCOG, through the Colorado Energy Office, has other income qualifying weatherization assistance programs that can qualify higher-income renters or home owners
“It’s free to income-qualifying people,” said NCCOG Outreach Coordinator Emily Hoskins. “But if you make a little too much for my base programs, we have the CARE program, that is for those with higher incomes who still need help. It’s so important that people know that just because you might not qualify under one program, we have others. Weatherizing a home can cut your utility costs in half.”
The home repair and weatherization services are available through several income qualifying programs. Hoskins said the difference between the program she covers, and others, is that the NCCOG has its own construction crews on staff to go in and do the work. Typically she says, the work can be done within a few weeks of the assessment.
CCH Regional Housing Director Autumn Dever stressed that the CCH is actively looking to help with needed home repairs, issuing low cost loans to people with qualifying incomes. The minimum amount for a loan is $1,000 and loan amounts go up to $24,999 (at which point lead-based paint rules apply requiring different loan terms). The loan payment schedule is set based on a person’s ability to repay the loan.
“We don’t turn people down – we fit the loan to the person’s income,” said Dever. “We place a priority on projects like roof repairs, plumbing repairs, unsafe wiring, unsafe furnaces, making a kitchen handicap accessible, things like that. It’s because health and safety issues are a top priority for us. We can do an inspection and get estimates of what needs to be done, then we locate and arrange for the contractors to do the work.”
One member of the public attending the session said that she had applied for the weatherization program for several years and had been denied because her mobile home had been weatherized in the past, before she moved into it. Hoskins said that it is true that if a home had been weatherized since 1994, it could not be weatherized again under her main program. But she identified a second program that for the woman, that qualified her to weatherize her mobile home’s drafty windows.
Both Hoskins and Dever stressed that they do not have wait lists for their home improvement programs. “ We have more supply (of funds) than demand,” said Dever. “We’re trying to get the word out to people who need help that we’re here to help them.”
“The urgency is that right now we don’t have a wait list and we want to help people in Chaffee County now, said Hoskins who explained that funds for the weatherization program come from state and federal as well as utility companies. “We’re even subcontracted for a crisis intervention program – so if a furnace goes out, we can come in and help people immediately.”
Representatives of Chaffee County Public Health and Human Services Departments pointed out their role referring clients to home repair and weatherization. “We are this odd safety net here, and we do things like radon testing and when invited, we do home visitations where we see housing concerns, said Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom. “We don’t have the budget for these (home repairs), but we can refer people to the agencies who can help them.
Those interested in learning more about the home repair, accessibility and weatherization programs can go to:
Chaffee County Office of Housing: 719.530.2590 firstname.lastname@example.org
Northwest Colorado Council of Governments: 1-800-332-3669 www.nwccog.org
Central Colorado Housing, Dept. of UAACOG” 719-275-4191 or www.uaacog.com