Everyone Deserves a Safe and Warm Home

As winter approaches, energy costs are on the rise - increasing 37% since October 20101 - making it difficult for people to maintain a decent standard of living. Many people who are struggling to pay their bills are faced with difficult choices: pay the rent or the electricity bill? Buy food or repair the furnace? During these cold months, at Community Action we don’t believe anyone should have to choose between a safe, warm home and eating their next meal. Throughout Washington State our agencies are stepping in to fill the gap by providing financial assistance to those in need. Community Action agencies provide critical, basic programs and services from weatherization services like broken window or roof repair to preventing power shutoff. When times are tough, people should not have to live in the cold. If you know someone who is threatened with power shut-off or rising energy bills, refer them to your local Community Action agency for help.

[1]Energy Bills Rise by 37% in Three Years,” The Guardian, 2013.

Energy Program Helps Single Mother and Her Children

Deshaye was in a tough spot. Employed as a caregiver for an elderly and disabled man, Deshaye’s employer passed away in October 2013, leaving her without any income to support herself or her two children, a six year old boy and a 21 month old girl. In addition, Deshaye’s nephew had moved in with her family that summer. Already struggling to support her expanded family on her caregiver’s income, including her growing teenage nephew, things turned from hard to nearly impossible in a matter of weeks when she became unemployed.

Deshaye had grown up in the foster care system, moved from house to house and family to family. She had nobody she could turn to for support when the bills started to pile up. Deshaye could only depend on herself to keep her family together: “Literally, there is just me. My kids have no grandparents, uncles, aunties. I didn’t stay long enough in my foster families to get a family I could call my own,” Deshaye said.

With a staggering bill of over $1,000 that was transferred over from a previous address and finding herself without work, Deshaye went to Centerstone seeking help. She discovered she only qualified for $275 through the federally funded LIHEAP program, as she hadn’t lived at her current address for the 12 months needed to give her a grant based on her family’s personal energy usage. The $275 helped but would not prevent her impending disconnection from Seattle City Light.

Deshaye then received a phone call from Centerstone informing her of a private donor’s
anonymous donation of $400 to her account. The donation had been raised through Centerstone’s community-led Bridge the Gap campaign to help financially-burdened clients who didn’t always meet program eligibility criteria. “The extra donation allowed my lights to be kept on. I cried when I found out. I don’t know how to express my gratitude. It is a blessing that there are people out there who are able to help,” Deshaye said. Now Deshaye is fighting to get back on her feet and look for work, “any type of work,” so that she can keep her family together and provide a better future for her children and nephew.

Deshaye, Centerstone Client

Energy and Weatherization Solutions

The Community Action network provides a number of Energy and Weatherization solutions through your local agency and across Washington State such as:
  • Energy Assistance
  • Home Weatherization
  • Minor Home Repair
  • Window and Furnace Repair