There was a time when the cold breeze produced an audible whistle through the structure that Coleen and her two children called home.
A SNAP energy assistance client, Coleen realized that while the agency was helping helping her from falling behind on her monthly power bills, her residence in North Spokane was retaining energy about as effectively as water through a sieve. She recalled one winter being especially rugged.
“It was a very cold time of the year and we were freezing,” Coleen said. “The wind just basically went right through the house.”
Other issues had cropped up at the home, including the buildup of mold in the bathroom due to the lack of an exhaust fan. Coleen’s kids began suffering from asthma and other respiratory symptoms.
“It seemed like we were always getting sick,” she said.
That was before a SNAP team arrived on the scene with a plan to weatherize the home and provide repairs that would improve the health and safety of the family. A total of 250 bags of insulation gave the house a much-needed layer of reinforcement that kept the heat in during bitter Spokane winters.
Crews also added energy-efficient windows, replaced a faulty furnace, addressed wiring concerns and added a fan in the bathroom.
“It made a big difference,” Coleen said. “My kids weren’t sad anymore and we weren’t getting sick like we used to.”
Each year, SNAP completes over 700 home repairs and weatherizes 200 to 300 homes as funding is available. Despite funding challenges that make it impossible to reach every household on the waiting list, Chris Davis, director of SNAP Housing Services, said the work is making a difference.
“The need is greater than the available resources, unfortunately,” Davis said. “But we do the best we can. We definitely see our efforts paying off. Homes are safer, warmer and more energy efficient. Individuals and families are more secure where they live. We just wish we could get to more.”
For Coleen, the improvements were also reflected in the family budget. She saw a savings in her energy bill of nearly $100 in the first month after the repairs were made.
“Truly, it’s hard to sum up all the benefits we received because of SNAP,” she said. “What we saved in our light bill meant more money for groceries and clothes. More than that, though, it was comforting to know that someone out there cared for what we were going through.”