Finding Weatherization Solutions for Vulnerable Nebraskans...

New Home Weatherization Program Provides Comfort and Safety for Clients

By Gin Christensen, Southeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership

On January 1, 2019, Nebraska Weatherization Assistance kicked off a new Emergency HVAC Replacement Program that allows local community service providers to utilize Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program Emergency Funds to repair or replace furnaces and/or air-conditioning systems for clients who own their homes but are not eligible for assistance due to previous weatherization limitations. The new program pays for weatherization improvements up to $5,000.

Sharon lives in the Southeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership (SENCA) Region. Her furnace and air conditioning units were very old and parts to fix them were no longer available. So, late in 2018, she began looking for new equipment replacement options. Sharon was unable to secure a loan at the local bank and was not eligible for weatherization assistance because she had previously used the Weatherization Program in 2002. Because of this, she was not eligible for Re-Weatherization services.

In January, 2019, local banker Bonnie Kanel contacted Gin Christensen of Southeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership. Bonnie asked Gin if any financial assistance for Sharon might be available through the new Emergency HVAC Replacement Program.

Sharon and Josh Sharon with Josh Nincehelser, Southeast Nebraska Community Action Inspector.

Understanding the dire circumstances of the situation and the upcoming bitter winter forecast, SENCA contacted Sharon to see if a time was available to inspect her furnace equipment. SENCA Inspector, Josh Nincehelser, arrived later that same day and found dangerously high carbon monoxide (CO) levels in the house. The CO levels were so extreme it could have been fatal for her and her son. A heating and ventilation contractor was immediately called to repair the furnace exhaust pipe and temporarily fix the CO problem until a new furnace could be installed.

After reflecting on Sharon's circumstances, Josh commented, “All I can say is someone was watching over Sharon that day”.

Within the week a new system was installed. Sharon was very pleased with the quick response from SENCA and was thankful the new weatherization program was there when she needed it most. Sharon and her son now are warm and safe thanks to the caring people in her local community and dedicated employees of the Southeast Nebraska Community Action Partnership.

For more information about the Nebraska Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program contact Tom Tabor at: