Utah's REACH Program Evaluation Summary
Utah's REACH project was carried out through a partnership between: the Utah State LIHEAP grantee, which administered the money; the Community Action Services (CAS) – a private non-profit organization that served as the service provider of the program; and the Research Department at Brigham Young University, which provided the Evaluation Report.
Three years: October 1998 through September 2001.
The federal grant provided $433,853. In addition, the program received $75,000 of Critical Needs Housing funding, which is state legislated money from the State's General Fund. Appropriated by the Utah State Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) over the three-year period at $25,000 per year, the state matching funds were used to repair and replace water heaters and other major appliances.
The federal grant expended $66 per participant; other resources, including the state matching grant and over $77,000 of community services from different funding sources, expended $25 per participant.
The goals of the program were: 1) to increase the level of energy self-sufficiency for households participating in the program; and 2) increase the level of safety and comfort of the participants. In this study, energy self-sufficiency was defined as the ability to pay one's gas and electric bills without financial assistance from LIHEAP. Level of safety and comfort focused on the participants' winter thermostat settings, risk of homelessness, and utility shut-offs.
All REACH clients were required to meet LIHEAP income eligibility requirements. In addition, the program targeted those households most in need and considered vulnerable including very low-income, elderly, disabled, single-parent, and minority households.
The Utah REACH provided crisis/budget counseling and negotiation for families with energy crises, which included guidance and referral to other community resources. The program also provided energy conservation education classes on both energy conservation behavior and energy conservation materials. The latter provided self-help conservation kits containing materials the participants could install in their homes.
The number of participants in the various components of the program included the following:
- shut-off/crisis counseling/assistance – 1,831;
- energy conservation education – 6,088;
- self-help energy conservation kits – 2,880; and
- retrofit/in-home conservation – 97.
According to the evaluation, the program achieved the State Performance Goals for participating households, including the following:
- Increased energy self-sufficiency
Objective: 20% decrease in number of households seeking crisis utility help
Attained: Recidivism from 1st to 2nd year – only .03%
Recidivism from 2nd to 3rd year – only .028%
- Increased safety and comfort
Objective: 20% decrease in households at risk of homelessness at intake
Attained: 52.6% decrease
Objective: 80% of participants will keep their thermostat no lower than 68 degrees (to reduce risk of hypothermia)
Attained: At intake 80.1% were already setting their thermostat no lower than 68 degrees, so this objective was already met; however, after participation, 86.5% of participating REACH clients set their thermostats no lower than 68 degrees.
Objective: Reduction in energy usage by 20%
Attained: 27.5% decrease in energy usage
Objective: Participants will engage in in-home energy conservation habits
Attained: Majority of participants reported high level of energy conserving behaviors. There was positive movement of number of people using self-help kit materials.
Objective: Participants have increased knowledge of home energy conservation – answer 70% of post-test questions correctly
Attained: 85% of post-test questions were answered correctly
Objective: 100% of participants will access other community resources
Attained: Virtually 100% of those sampled did follow up and access the other community resources (only 3 out of 885 sampled did not)
Objective: Utility shut-offs will be prevented
Attained: 100% of all of the 1,831 crisis shut-off cases were resolved positively (shut-off prevented)
For the first year of the program, incentives were offered to recipients
to complete the pre- and post-tests. For the second year, incentives
were offered only to recipients to complete the post-test telephone
interview. However, incentives had little or no impact on recipients'
willingness to be interviewed as most of them were willing to be
interviewed and few bothered to get their certificates that could
be redeemed at local stores. Thus, in the third year, no incentives
were offered; this did not affect the refusal rate.
Contact: Myla J. Dutton
Community Action Services
815 South Freedom Blvd., Suite 100
Provo, UT 84601
Phone: (801) 373-8200 ext. 250