What a frightening scenario: The air turns frigid, you turn on the heat in your home and discover your furnace is not working. Worst of all, you don’t have the money for a new furnace and you can’t take on a traditional loan.

For those in that situation, the City of Fort Wayne’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services is offering a zero interest loan program.

The program offers zero percent interest 10-year loans for heating/air conditioning replacement projects. Applicants must own their home, it must be their primary residence and the home must be located within city limits. Applicants must also have a household income at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, or $55,050 for a family of four.

Residents can apply by calling (260) 427-8585. They will be asked a series of brief questions and then will be asked to leave their contact information on a voice mail system. Someone from the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services will call them back to determine their eligibility.

Funding for this program comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is limited. Residents will be served on a first-come first-served basis, and the program will be closed once funds are committed.

More information about the Homeowner Repair Furnace/Air Conditioning Program can be found at www.fwcommunitydevelopment.org/homeownerrepair.

Keep pets warm, too

Critters that stay outside during the winter need extra warmth, too. Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control reminds residents that they can contact the shelter to get free straw bedding for their pets. Straw is the best and safest way to provide warmth for outdoor pets. Blankets hold moisture and quickly freeze during the winter months, which can be detrimental for pets trying to stay warm.

Fort Wayne city ordinance requires animals be brought into a temperature- controlled structure when temperatures dip below 10 degrees and/or when a wind chill warning has been issued by a local, state or national authority. A garage or shed without heat are not adequate housing.

Now is also a good time to get a plan in place to protect community cats. Community cats are free-roaming cats that have been spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. They are easily identified by a docked ear. The shelter has a limited supply of community cat houses available for providers for free.

The shelter also reminds residents that if you see something, say something. Call (260) 427-1244 during normal business hours or (260) 449-3000 after hours and on weekends to report an animal in need.

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