ST. LOUIS (3/4/15)--Anne may have had a roof over her head, but for some time that roof scarcely provided the Ferguson, Mo., resident any comfort.
Thanks to an FHLB grant, Wanda was able to receive much-needed repairs to her home, including a new thermostat. (St. Louis Community CU Photo)
The plumbing was shot and the house was so cold in the winter that Anne, who's elderly and disabled, slept with a heating pad and a space heater to stay warm at night.
It was only because of a grant procured by St. Louis Community CU--a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and a low-income designated credit union--that Anne was able to make the repairs she needed to make her home safe and livable again.
"This house, at 3 in the morning, would be so cold," Anne said. "At 3 this morning, it was heaven."
The grant program, one of several affordable housing-related programs offered by St. Louis Community, is made possible through a partnership with the Community Action Agency of St. Louis County (CAASTLC), a local low-income intervention services organization.
In 2013, St. Louis Community received a $300,000 affordable housing grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of Des Moines, allowing CAASTLC to repair and weatherize homes for low-income homeowners.
The grant funding helped pay for repairs and weatherization, which includes insulation for heating and cooling, on 39 homes, with an average of about $8,000 to $9,000 spent on each home.
"Some of these individuals faced dangerous and unsafe conditions," Dorothy Bell, St. Louis Community senior vice president/chief marketing officer, told
in an email. "Thanks to the funding, they were able to remain in their homes with dignity."
The assistance doesn't stop with the repairs, however.
Those who receive home repairs or weatherization also are given one-on-one education sessions on living safe, healthy lives in their updated homes.
Called the Healthy Homes curriculum, the program provides recipients education on how to maintain a healthy indoor air environment. Program leaders say the education, combined with the repairs and weatherization, help break the cycle of poor health and poor quality of life.
"People's ability to stay in their homes and stay healthy is the real impact," said Jim Trout, CAASTLC associate director for weatherization. "Lower utility bills are the icing."
|The upgrades the Community Action Agency of St. Louis County made to Anne's home keep her warm at night, unlike her house before the repairs. (St. Louis Community CU Photo)
This combination also recently helped Wanda, a Jennings, Mo., resident whose home was in such disrepair that CAASTLC couldn't weatherize it until additional repairs were made.
Wanda's furnace was inoperable, her plumbing leaked, mold had taken hold of the basement, appliances had stopped working and the home had become so inhabitable that she began staying with friends. Conditions were exacerbated after Wanda had to spend a month in the hospital after a bad fall.
But the funds provided by St. Louis Community enabled CAASTLC to completely renovate Wanda's home, and now it's clean, dry and livable. Wanda also received a new high-efficiency furnace with a programmable thermostat, a new electrical service panel and new plumbing.
"It was like giving a baby a rattle," she said. "I was so distracted because of my fall, but then I started thinking, 'I'm getting a new furnace.' That's pretty awesome."
The educational component also played a huge role for Wanda, as homes in poor condition can lead to health issues--such as respiratory problems--because of animal droppings or mold.
As a CDFI, St. Louis Community CU actively partners with social services agencies and its clients as part of its overall giveback to the community.
(This is part of a continuing News Now's new series, "The CU Effect," which gives readers a fresh and in-depth look at how credit unions make a difference in the world every day. Look for the next installment March 18.)