In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded Vietnam War veteran Vincent Zerbilio’s Cutler Bay area home and damaged his roof.
Because the roofing shingles were not visibly destroyed, his insurance company did not consider the roof to be damaged and would not provide him with the funds to repair the leaks.
“I lived with the roof leaking for six years and I didn’t know what else to do, so I called the [county] mayor’s office and asked for assistance. It was the best thing in the world I could have done,” Zerbilio said.
Fortunately, Zerbilio was eligible to receive assistance from two of the Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department’s (CAHSD) home rehabilitation programs — the Single Family Rehabilitation Loan Program (SFRLP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, “the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 allotted more than $11 billion for the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program. WAP enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient, using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry.”
Through the SFRLP, Zerbilio’s roof was replaced, the windows were fitted with accordion shutters, the interior was painted and a stand-by generator was installed. Additionally, the master bathroom shower was replaced with an ADA approved roll-in shower and commode chair. The guest bathroom whirlpool bathtub was replaced and a lift chair was installed. Ceramic tile baseboards were installed, door locks were replaced and some minor plumbing repair work was also completed.
Under WAP/ARRA, Zerbilio’s central air conditioner was replaced with a 36,000 BTU energy efficient unit; his refrigerator was upgraded to an energy efficient model; the kitchen and bathroom faucets were replaced with aerators to reduce the water flow; the front door was weather stripped; three windows were covered in solar reflective film to reduce the temperature levels inside the home; 12 light bulbs were exchanged with energy efficient bulbs, and three new smoke detectors were installed.
“I was only expecting to have my roof replaced, so to have the other repairs and upgrades done in my home has truly been a godsend,” Zerbilio said.
CAHSD’s Energy Programs Division has successfully completed 2,000 home renovation and/or repair projects this year and weatherized more than 800 homes throughout Miami-Dade County.
“We were extremely honored to undertake Mr. Zerbilio’s home renovation project because of his valor contributions to our country as a war veteran,” said Alfredo Rodriguez, Energy Programs Division director. “Replacing Mr. Zerbilio’s roof and completing the other repairs enhanced the quality of his life. “Equally as important were the weatherization improvements which resulted in the reduction of his energy consumption; his electric bill immediately following the completion of the weatherization measures was compared to his bill for the same month the previous year (pre-weatherization) and we found that his electric bill was reduced by over 40 percent.”
Rodriguez said Zerbilio’s electric bill pre-weatherization was around $62 and post-weatherization it was reduced to under $40. Additionally, his energy consumption (i.e. kilowatt hour usage) was reduced by approximately 44 percent.”
For more information about the programs and services through Miami-Dade Community Action and Human Services Department, call 786-469-4600 or visit on the Web at www.miamidade.gov/cahs.