Family in need: 'We're at our wits' end. We don't know where to go'

SELAH, Wash. -- You've probably noticed the colder temperatures at night. For most, it means an extra blanket on the bed. Ffor one man in Selah, it means desperately hoping for help with a broken furnace before winter.

Summer is winding down and colder temperatures are setting in and it has one Selah family fearing the worst.

"We've got more money going out than we do turn around coming in," said homeowner Tim Kramer.

Tim Kramer is 60 years old and lives on social security disability. He says the gas company shut off the gas line to his furnace six months ago because of a leak. The 45-year-old device would cost at least $1,000 to fix if the parts can be found.

Tim lost the use of his legs in November because of severe nerve damage and spends 98 percent of his time in his motorized chair.

"I can't work anymore. I can't walk anymore. Trying to play with my kids is totally rough without my legs. And, now I know just how much they mean to me," Tim said.

There are programs designed to help. Yakima's Neighborhood Development can help seniors, the disabled and those who can't afford their bills. But, as a Selah resident, Kramer doesn't qualify. The Clean Air Agency handles cases involving wood-burning heat problems. Tim's furnace runs on gas. The OIC of Washington used to have a program that would repair and replace broken furnaces, but it was slashed from the budget several years ago. Even then, there's more need than there is help available.

"We have a list of people from 2009 that still needing to get their gas stove furnace fixed," said OIC Director of Community Services John Riggins.

Tim's wife Carol is now worried. Without help, they could be left out in the cold.

"Just having heat would make it a whole lot easier," Carol said.

"We're at our wits' end," Tim said. "We don't know where to go next and winter is coming on fast."

Tim adds that since he lost the use of his legs, he has fallen into a depression due to his limited ability to do simple tasks such as run errands and visit friends. The family has a ramp to help him use his motorized chair to get in and out of the home, but unfortunately they can not afford to have a ramp for their vehicle. Tim Kramer says he doesn't want his disability to limit him, and hopes that one day he can do all the things he had been able in the past.