The Oklahoman

Communitie­s thrive when programs help families

- Yout turn Jessie Thompson Guest columnist Jessie Thompson is executive director of Community Action Agency (CAA) of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma/Canadian Counties Inc.

October, for all its tricks and treats, is a great deal more important for Oklahoma homeowners than we realize. It’s also National Weatheriza­tion Month, with the 45th Annual Weatheriza­tion Day falling on Oct. 30. Both are noteworthy in bringing awareness to the importance of weatherizi­ng homes before the harsh winter months, especially for families living in older homes.

According to a survey done by, the average age of homes in Oklahoma County is three years older than the state average. As houses age, repairs and renovation­s may be needed for compliance, safety and efficiency purposes. Community Action Agency of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma and Canadian County’s (CAA) Weatheriza­tion Program hopes to help create permanent solutions for those in need of increasing energy efficiency in their homes, as well as address various health and safety issues, such as installing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

The lack of energy-efficient homes — and high utility bills as a result — disproport­ionately affect low-income people and families. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, low-income households typically spend 16.3% of their total annual income on energy costs, causing them to cut back on more important things, such as child care, groceries, health care and more. Each year, more than 182,000 low-income households receive energy assistance funds from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

CAA’s Weatheriza­tion Program has a goal of creating more energy-efficient homes for the clients it serves; however, additional benefits can be seen for not only the home dwellers but for the community. When CAA weatherize­s a home, the beneficiaries save an average of $40 a month in energy bills, which can help reduce individual poverty, make a positive impact on local employment and increase the number of energy-efficient homes in Oklahoma.

I see people from all walks of life, with different needs, wants and challenges. Some are looking to create a better future for their children, some want to start a business and some need adequate shelter to put them on the path to achieve their dreams.

Weatheriza­tion of homes has an indirect effect on all of us. If a home can be updated so that it uses less energy, we can ultimately lower energy costs for all of us. The program offers beneficiaries a way to permanentl­y save money for use within Oklahoma’s economy and helps them focus on needs like health, education, medical and more to increase their well-being.

As Oklahomans, we are known for the care we show one another, and CAA’s Weatheriza­tion Program provides the tools and resources to increase self-sufficiency among those who are at a disadvanta­ge.

After an applicatio­n is submitted and approved, Weatheriza­tion Program experts begin with a whole home survey. The survey defines the necessary services needed to create efficiencies and will help save the homeowner money in the long run. Our dedicated team ensures all pieces that can be fixed are completed and maintained before moving onto the next home. Priority within the program is given to seniors, those with disabiliti­es and families with children. Income limits also are applicable.

To apply for weatheriza­tion assistance, go to­tion/.

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