Powerful partnership helps low-income homeowners

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COM_Ray Herek_homepage

Ray Herek, a product specialist for OPPD, has never met Kathy Fleming. Yet, he’s helped make a big impact on her health and safety.

Fleming, 65, lives on a fixed income in central Omaha. “All I receive is disability,” she said. “And it’s barely enough to cover the mortgage.”

A recent surgery added to her burdens.

“A neighbor of mine found the Project Houseworks program,” Fleming said. “So, I called them for an inspection, just to see what kind of shape mine was in.”

Project Houseworks serves disabled home owners in Douglas and Sarpy counties, aged 60 years or older, who meet HUD income guidelines. Those who qualify may receive critical home repairs or modifications at low or no cost.


Three years ago, while serving on the boards for both Project Houseworks and the Heating and Cooling Contractors Association (HACCA), Herek suggested a parternship between the two.

“That’s how Warm the Metro was born,” he said. “Every October, the homeowners that have been served by Project Houseworks have an opportunity to get free furnace inspections by participating HACCA members.”

ServiceOne provided Fleming’s inspection.

COM_Ray Herek_Tylor Troxell, Service One Installer

Calls like hers often result in a simple cleaning and tuneup. In other cases, it’s more serious.

“They came to check it out, give it a thorough cleaning, and that’s when they found it.”

What they found was a slightly cracked heat exchanger, something that could potentially leak harmful gasses into her home.

Technicians also said her aging furnace, which was once 80 percent efficient, was probably now only 40 percent. Lower efficiency means higher energy usage and higher utility bills.

ServiceOne didn’t just fix Fleming’s 20 year-old furnace, they installed a new one. It’s something Fleming would have never been able to afford on her own.

“They’ve helped me out immensely.”


Project Houseworks typically helps about 150 homeowners like Fleming every year, to varying degrees. The time, talent and resources of HACCA members helps take that good work to new levels.

Herek said he’s just glad to have helped bring the organizations together to help more people

“I believe, as a community, we should do more to help those who cannot help themselves,” he said.

“And I believe miracles happen every day,” Fleming said.

She said she plans to pay it forward.

For more information on Project Houseworks or to donate to the cause, call (402) 965-9201 or visit their website.

Jodi Baker

About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. She's married with two children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier.

One thought on “Powerful partnership helps low-income homeowners”

  1. What an awesome program. This was a god scent to Ms. Fleming. Her home is safer, her heating bills will go down, and life is made a little easier on her, and she’s going to pass it forward, that’s what community is all about. OPPD has a great program, this is what a public utility is all about.

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