When Franziska moved to Spokane in 1999, she was unsure what the future would hold. A trained and experienced nurse’s assistant, Franziska had been offered a job at Holy Family Hospital. While searching for a place to call home in the Lilac City, she felt that walking distance to both work and shopping was a key factor. When she looked at a charming home on Spokane’s north side, she knew she had found the right place.
Over the years, Franciska’s house aged, and she found it hard to keep up with repairs. When she retired in 2012, she knew that there was a great deal of work that needed to be done on her home. An old faulty furnace, which Franziska claims “came over on the ark,” left her using space heaters that she feared would cause a fire. A lack of insulation and failing single pane windows left her home drafty and cold. As a result she was paying over $200 a month on her energy bill.
In addition to a drafty home that lacked energy efficiency, many aspects of the home had become unsafe. The bathroom was crumbling, the bathtub was deteriorating and the window in the shower was flaking and cracking. Laminate flooring in both the kitchen and bath were peeling and creating tripping hazards. These issues as well as poor ventilation were causing mold and poor indoor air quality. Franziska’s hot water tank had stopped working and without the resources to fix it they had to heat water on the stove to bathe and do dishes.
When Franziska got a call from Cindy Lee, SNAP’s Single Family Rehab Housing counselor, she was pleased to hear that SNAP had taken over management of the program. She was familiar with the agency, having frequent high energy bills as a result of her home’s needed repairs, she regularly utilized SNAP’s Energy Assistance program. After a brief conversation with Cindy, an appointment was scheduled with Derek Ferraro, SNAP’s Single Family Rehab coordinator, to conduct an initial home inspection.
A comprehensive home inspection revealed more problems than Franziska initially thought. The home was in desperate need of a new roof and several electric outlets needed to be replaced as they posed a possible fire hazard. A lead paint assessment revealed that the siding on the outside of the home had lead paint that was chipping and flaking, causing lead to be exposed to both the air and the soil. Lead paint was also found in every room in the interior of the home on baseboards, doors, windows and cabinets.
There was a lot that needed to be done to make Franziska’s home safe, healthy and energy efficient again and Derek spared no time in getting started. Within a day he had contacted SNAP’s Home Repair department to replace the non-functioning water heater, so she no longer had to heat water on top of her stove.
Before she knew it SNAP’s roof replacement program was replacing her roof. Franziska, thankful to have a stable roof over head once again, was amazed at the determination and speed at which SNAP and the contractors worked. They were, in her words, “in and out in a snap” while the contractors “were a dream.”
Next, SNAP’s Weatherization program insulated her home, installed proper ventilation in the bathroom and mounted carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. The program also installed a new furnace which put an end to the use of unsafe, costly space heaters and provided Franziska with a safer, warmer and more energy efficient home. The work thus far was provided at no cost to Franziska, in the form of grants from the various programs that provided these services.
The remaining repairs were completed through the Single Family Rehabilitation program which enables low-income homeowners in the city of Spokane to accomplish home repairs, addressing in-home health and safety deficiencies and reduce operating costs. This assistance is provided as a low-interest loan.
When pulling up to Franziska’s house you wouldn’t know it was the same home. What was once deteriorating cedar siding with chipping lead paint has been replaced with new beautiful red vinyl siding chosen by Franziska herself.
“I was surprised at how much input I was able to give” Holt said.
Accenting the house are new low-e argon filled vinyl replacement windows, and new gutters and soffits. New insulated doors with deadbolts and door locks will help to keep the weather out and the home secure.
“I believe the transformation of my home raised not only my own property value, but the value of surrounding properties in her neighborhood” Franziska said.
Thanks to the assistance of a breadth of SNAP services, a once rundown bathroom now has new walls, windows and flooring as well as a new sink and low flow energy efficient toilet. Faulty electrical outlets and boxes were repaired or replaced eliminating any fire hazards. New vinyl flooring in the kitchen provides a clean trip free surface to prepare meals.
“Everyone associated with the program was very professional and competent,” Franziska said. “They took time to talk to me about what they were doing and explain everything very well.”
Derek Ferraro said the successful project is something “that makes the whole team smile.”
“When we can combine SNAP’s other services with the Single Family Rehab program, we can really impact our community and change people’s quality of life,” he added.
For Cindy Lee, the transformation of Franziska’s home was “the direct result of the committed teamwork of my fellow employees and the exceptional programs SNAP is fortunate to offer.”
“We consistently work closely together to meet the needs of our clients,” Lee added. “This project is why I love my job! The reward for me is ultimately providing a client with a healthy, safe, energy efficient home.”
Franziska – who reports that her energy bill is now less than $100 – expressed gratitude to SNAP for her “new” home that came just in time for the holidays.
“Thank God for the help SNAP has provided,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas gift.”