May 12, 2011
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Hi Everybody! My name’s Mark, and I’m the Coordinator of UHAB’s Weatherization Assistance Program. I’ve been asked by the wonderful folks in our Organizing and Policy department to be a guest blogger. I’m going to let you all know a little about our Weatherization Program and will give updates from time to time about the intersections of affordable housing and the green energy efficiency movement.
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has existed for over twenty years as a means for owners of low-income houses and apartment buildings to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, lowering their environmental impact and saving money at the same time. WAP funds are provided by the federal Department of Energy and administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). Throughout New York City there are several permanent WAP subgrantees who for years have been enrolling buildings in WAP and oversee the rehab process. However, historically it has been very difficult for the HDFC co-ops that UHAB works with to access these programs. They traditionally require the owner of the building to contribute 25% to 50% of the total cost of the construction, and while this may be doable for traditional landlords, HDFC’s often don’t have this kind of money available in their reserves.
Over the years, UHAB has tried with limited success to help HDFC’s gain access to WAP funds, so when we heard in the summer of 2009 that their would be money available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – aka “the Stimulus” – to fund temporary WAP Subgrantees, we decided to apply. We were approved to provide Weatherization benefits to HDFC’s at a much lower cost to the buildings, and since June 2010 we’ve been working with HDFC’s to get them qualified and through the Weatherization process.
We were approved to Weatherize 491 units of HDFC housing, or about 20 buildings. There have been some bumps along the road, but we have completely weatherized 1 48-unit building and are currently in construction in another 152 units (6 buildings). We’ve provided one building with a brand new boiler and are providing others with new windows, pipe insulation, roof insulation, roof repair work, boiler work, new refrigerators, lighting upgrades, and other improvements. It will take a lot of hard work and hustle to reach our target by the end our grant in September, but I’m very confident that we will have accomplished our goal of providing energy efficiency improvements to almost 500 units of HDFC housing.