08 Sep Kearns Family Finds Relief Through CDCU Home Repair Program
Promoting sustainable homeownership isn’t just about helping people buy a home—it’s also about finding ways to make homes safer, more accessible, and more energy efficient throughout the community. With the help of Community Development Corporation of Utah, the Neilson family of Kearns, Utah was able to make some sorely-needed improvements to their home that strengthened their financial stability, reduce their environmental impact, and most importantly, make life easier for their disabled son, Andrew.
Sharon Neilson initially came to CDCU seeking solutions for her family’s very high utility bills. The outdated heating and air conditioning units were not powerful enough to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the year, and added to the lack of proper insulation in the outside walls, their utilities were costing the family up to $600 a month. On top of the utility issues, the bathroom used by their wheelchair-bound son Andrew was divided into two separate rooms, making it very difficult to help him with daily hygiene tasks.
They needed help making their home both more energy efficient and accessible. But initial estimates for the work they needed appeared out of reach: quotes ranged from $34,000 to as much as $60,000. Then, in August of 2014, their air conditioning system totally failed, and they knew something had to be done. “We were at a point where we didn’t know how to get out of the situation,” Sharon says.
They met with Kristie Thorp, the program manager over home rehabilitation at CDCU. After taking a look at their situation, Kristie coordinated with a number of organizations, including Salt Lake County, the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, ASSIST, and others to help secure grant funding for these critical repairs. Their teams installed new HVAC systems and moved their new furnace up to the attic, freeing up sorely needed space near the bathroom. They were then able to convert the two halves of the bathroom into one full bathroom with large, open access to the shower. What used to take an hour, two people, and over six steps to help Andrew take a shower now takes only 15 minutes, one person, and just two steps.
Since the repairs were completed in December, they’ve seen their monthly energy bills go down quite a bit. Their natural gas usage during the winter months this past year decreased by 21%, and while their household grew from just three people to six in the last 11 months, their electricity usage has dropped over 8%. David is very glad that with the help of CDCU, he isn’t seeing those $600 monthly utility bills: “For what they’ve been able to do, it’s been truly life-changing.”
At Community Development Corporation of Utah, it’s our core belief that everyone deserves a safe and healthy place to call home. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you make your home more energy efficient or accessible, please contact us to see what services may be available.