Fairleigh Street woman gets major home renovation

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Hazel Benford got the surprise of her life when she received news she would be getting her house remodeled at no cost.

“I was shouting and I was saying ‘hallelujah thank you Jesus!’ cause I know I needed help.”

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Hazel got her home energy upgrade in March after going through an application and vetting process.

It only took one day for her to be selected as a winner of the EPB energy upgrade, and even less time to notice the difference she felt from the changes to her home.

“I can breathe better… the air is.. you can tell the difference in the air because now the air is actually clean,” said Benford.


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Ms. Benford has lived along Fairleigh street for decades; there are dozens more homes like hers in need of repairs for the health and economic well being of their residents.

GreenSpaces Chattanooga is a non-profit committed to assisting low income families with reducing their energy costs through programs like this.

“We know that month to month some people receive $400, $500, we’ve seen even up to $1200 a month utility bills and if you receive that, its not affordable and you get into a cycle that you just can’t get out of, repaying that debt,” said Dawn Hjelseth, director of development.

EPB, partners with TVA, GreenSpaces and the City of Chattanooga, and they now have $1 million more to help other people. The goal is to remodel 100 more homes.

“We really saw those benefits that were outlined,” says GreenSpaces Executive Director Michael Walton.  “The health benefits, the economic ripple effect of not only being able to afford utility bill, but being able to take that money and pay for food, pay for medicine, pay for gas.”

The improvements made from the program include patching up holes in walls, fixing insulation around windows and doors and even installing a brand new heating and air system.

Hazel is happy with her new and improved home.

“I love it! I love it. It didn’t take them long, they came right along and did what they was supposed to do and I just enjoy it.”

Hazel is the 250th upgrade for the program.

And EPB, TVA, The Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and Pinnacle Bank have teamed up to upgrade another 100 homes in the coming year.

To apply for the program, contact GreenSpaces Chattanooga at info@greenspaceschattanooga.org, or call (423) 648-0963.