February 20, 2013 – Westby, WI – An innovative program operated in the La Crosse area by Couleecap, Inc.—in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago—is featured in the most recent edition of the State & Local Energy Report, a national publication read by energy assistance advocates, utilities, energy businesses and community organizations.
Couleecap, like many other weatherization providers in Wisconsin, has been experiencing a growing number of deferrals, having to walk away from a needy family’s home because of health and safety problems which prevent them from providing energy efficiency measures through weatherization. The least energy-efficient homes often require other services, such as housing rehabilitation or home repairs; services that are beyond the scope of the weatherization program itself. Having to walk away from a needy family’s home because of health or safety problems is demoralizing to the family, prevents necessary cost-saving energy efficiency measures from being installed and goes against the mission of the program and agency.
Couleecap’s Weatherization Deferral Project (WDP) was created to resolve these health, safety and structural issues; allowing them to be addressed and, then, followed up with weatherization energy efficiency services, to the long-lasting benefit of everyone.
Couleecap’s weatherization program linked with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, with the Habitat chapter providing labor and donated materials for necessary rehab work. These resources were combined with forgivable grant dollars from Citizens State Bank provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s Affordable Housing Program.
This increased collaboration has produced multiple benefits. The Weatherization Deferral Project has allowed Couleecap to utilize an additional $5,000 to $10,000 in rehab and healthy homes benefits per home, as well as provide weatherization services for those homes that would have otherwise been deferred. Most important, clients in these 52 sub-standard homes were able to receive the full benefits of weatherization services, providing significant energy savings and addressing health and safety concerns.
Couleecap’s Weatherization Deferral Project is yet another example of the capacity to innovate and to develop partnerships which defines much of the critical work being done by the Community Action network in Wisconsin.