Ozark Action Weatherization Program helps people from all walks of life
Tue, 10/31/2023 - 3:19pm admin
October 30 is National Weatherization Day and representatives from Ozark Action Inc. (OAI) encourage homeowners and renters to apply for the free program.
The OAI Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), funded by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources-Division of Energy, offers a comprehensive home energy audit and home improvements aimed at reducing utility costs for low-income residents at no cost to the client.
Program benefits include a free pre- and post-weatherization energy audit, free insulation work, and should the audit call for the improvements, free minor home repairs like air sealing, window repairs, and possible replacement of heating systems. Participation in weatherization services is income-based, and some restrictions apply.
Vickie and Jim Clancy of West Plains weren’t sure if they qualified for the program when initially applying back in June 2021. After being on the waitlist for about 2 years, they received a letter in early October saying their home was coming up to the top of the list.
“We got our income reverification form, looked at the income guidelines, and weren’t sure that we still qualified, so I didn’t send it back,” Vickie said. “About a week later, Shelly called and asked why we hadn’t returned the paperwork. It turns out that we qualified for medical deductions that allowed us to have the work done on our home.”
Vickie continued. “I used to be a social worker, so I know how important Ozark Action’s work is to the region. I’m glad we were able to take advantage of the program.”
Jim said he was impressed with the work the weatherization crew did on their home. “We had very little insulation in the attic, so they ended up using 70 bags of insulation up there. And we didn’t have to pay for any of it.”
OAI weatherization crews were at the Clancy’s home on October 24 to conduct the final audit of the home and see what the completed energy-saving measures were going to do for the Clancy’s.
“At the end of the day we’re going to have invested about $3,000 worth of labor and supplies into the Clancy home, and their home will stay warmer in the upcoming winter,” said OAI Housing Division Director Ed Button. “Just because you were a social worker, or worked in some other field years ago doesn’t mean that you don’t need our services. People from all walks of life who qualify for assistance should take advantage of these programs. After all, you either are paying into or have paid into it. Why not get some return on that investment?”
Also, since the Clancys are customers of Summit Natural Gas, Summit also contributes to the project, reducing the amount of weatherization funding used on the home.
Button added that now is the best time to sign up for weatherization work. “Thanks to our partners in the federal government, this program is funded to levels we haven’t seen since the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. OAI’s weatherization program is typically funded at around $500,000 each year. However, COVID-19 spending at the federal level has increased our program budget to over $900,000 for at least the next year. That’s more money coming into your local stores and restaurants. Compound that with the roughly $300 families save on their utility bills each year and the local impact this program has is amazing.”
The program isn’t limited to homeowners. “Landlords who have low-income tenants can also take advantage of this service,” Button added, “We just request a small $200 contribution toward the work. But the tenant must be the person to apply.”
From October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023 Ozark Action weatherized 55 homes in their 6-county service area of Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Douglas, Wright, and Texas Counties. To qualify for weatherization through Ozark Action, applicants must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, or $39,440 for a household of two and $60,000 for a household of four. Each year, communities across the country mark October 30 as National Weatherization Day to highlight the impact of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which helps low-income residents save energy and money on their utilities each month by increasing energy efficiency in their homes.
Ozark Action, Inc. is a non-profit Community Action Agency serving the counties of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Texas, and Wright in South-Central Missouri. It was founded in 1965. The mission of OAI is to coordinate and provide services for people with needs so that they can improve their quality of life.
Several programs that help low-income residents are housed under the OAI umbrella including the Community Services department, which helps with homeless outreach, utility assistance for those in need, and the local Salvation Army; area Head Start programs, which provide educational opportunities to area children; Workforce, which offers services such as job placement, training, workshops, and other career-related opportunities; the area Weatherization program; and the area Housing Choice Voucher program (HCV), formerly known as the Section 8 program, which provides rental assistance to area residents.
People seeking to fill out an application for housing or weatherization assistance or one of the other many programs offered at Ozark Action will need to make an appointment by calling 417-256-6147.
For more information on Ozark Action and their services visit www.oaiwp.org.