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70-year-old Eugene woman without heat as officials slow to respond

70-year-old Cher Bourque said her heater is spewing out exhaust and she's worried she'll freeze to death.

Posted: Dec 27, 2018 6:48 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 6:03 PM

UPDATE: Thanks to the community, a 70-year-old woman who went without heat in her home for weeks won't have to be cold anymore.

On Friday, Associated Heating helped Cher Bourque by fixing her heater for free. They cleaned the heating element and tested it to make sure it was safe and planned to return to clean the entire duct system.

"I didn't know much about it until this morning, but once I kind of heard and watched your guys' news story on what happened before, I was pleased to come over, absolutely," Service Manager Drew Jackson told KEZI 9 News.

Bourque is on public assistance and said her heater had been spewing out exhaust. She said she's grateful for how people have stepped up to help her out.

"I just have to say thank you for all your outpouring," Bourque said. "I appreciate it so much. And then I came home adn the man came to fix my heater today, so it's been an outstanding day for me. Thank you very much."

Community members gave Bourque eight space heaters, and she said she'll pay it forward by taking them to the Catholic Community Services so they can be given to those who need them.

EUGENE, Ore. -- A 70-year-old Eugene woman on public assistance is living without heat, and officials at Homes for Good admit they've been slow to respond.

Cher Bourque said her heater is spewing out exhaust and she's worried she'll freeze to death. She is bundling up in extra layers of clothing and using her oven to heat her home.

"I've tried everything I possibly can, and it ain't working," Bourque said. "I don't know what else to do, but I'm not going to sit idly by and freeze to death. I don't deserve that."

Bourque got the heater two years ago from Homes for Good, Lane County's housing agency, which also helps people with their utilities. She said she reached out them three weeks ago, but it still hasn't been fixed.

"Why couldn't someone return the telephone call and say, 'Gee, I can't find anybody to help you, but I'm trying," Bourque said.

Officials at Homes for Good got back to Bourque on Thursday and said she will need to reapply to their Energy Assistance program before they can help.

Steve Jole of Homes for Good declined an on-camera interview but said the person who handles things like this recently retired and they're still training new staff. He said they are working to become more efficient.

"I'm sure I'm not the only person that needs helps because there are so many of us now that don't have enough money to take care of ourselves," Bourque said.

Bourque said she plans on getting a space heater to make do. Since this story first aired on KEZI 9 News at 4, multiple viewers have reached out to us to see if they can help. Some have offered to give her a space heater.

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