TDHCA expects to see increased jobs for Texans, increased affordability for homeowners through reduced energy demand
(AUSTIN) — Understanding the enormously positive and cost-effective impact weatherization can have on a home, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has announced major awards to the City of Georgetown and two regional nonprofit organizations designed to generate a wide array of jobs that will help jump start the state’s construction industry, while increasing home energy efficiency for low income households, reducing their cost burden, and creating a healthier environment.
TDHCA awarded $2.5 million in federal stimulus funding to the Hill Country Community Action Association to weatherize the homes of low income residents living in Bell, Burnet, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, Lampasas, Llano, Mason, Milam, Mills, San Saba, Somervell, and Williamson counties. In addition, the Department awarded $250,000 each to Georgetown and Williamson-Burnet County Opportunities to administer weatherization programs of their own at the local level.
These awards were part of a $288 million award made by the Department to 66 cities, counties, and eligible nonprofit organizations across the state to weatherize the homes of an estimated 40,000 low income Texans. The awards were made through the Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and were provided on a one-time basis to the state through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009.
This allocation represents a significant portion of the total $326.9 million allocated to the state, the balance of which TDHCA will award in 2010. The Recovery Act provided approximately $314 million more in funds than what TDHCA typically administers each year for weatherization activities. By comparison, the Department annually weatherizes approximately 3,700 homes using current funding levels of approximately $13 million. However, all WAP funds associated with the stimulus package must be expended by September 30, 2010.
“The state has been given an extraordinary opportunity to make an enormous difference in the everyday lives of Central Texas residents,” said Michael Gerber, TDHCA Executive Director, “actions that will lower their energy consumption, create healthier surroundings, and reduce the state’s overall demand for energy. At the same time, these funds will create construction jobs and produce fees and taxes for local economies. We are moving quickly to take advantage of this opportunity, but we also pledge to ensure these funds are administered in a responsible, accountable manner at the state and local levels.”
WAP is designed to help low income customers control their energy costs through the installation of weatherization materials and consumer education. Income eligible households spend 12.2 percent of their income on home energy costs, compared an average of 3.7 percent. Households assisted through WAP typically save over $400 on utility costs each year, savings can be enjoyed for as long as 15 to 20 years.
Primary efforts focus on caulking; weather-stripping; the installation of ceiling, wall, and floor insulation; patching holes in the building envelope; duct work; and the possible repair or replacement of energy inefficient heating and cooling systems.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is the funding source for this one-time allocation of weatherization funds. In addition to the substantial increase in funds, the Recovery Act contains two provisions that will extend TDHCA’s ability to reach those in need.
Under the Recovery Act, the income limit for eligibility increases from 150 percent to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. TDHCA currently sets its income limits at 125 percent to ensure these funds, which are normally quite limited, reach deeper pockets of need.
Additionally, the Act raises the monetary cap that may be spent on each household from $2,500 to $6,500. The Department, which combines WAP funds from DOE and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, currently caps assistance per household at $4,000.
For more information about weatherization efforts eligible under the Act, or to learn more about WAP in general, please visit the section’s Web site at www.tdhca.state.tx.us/ea/wap.htm. To contact the nearest contract service provider, use a land-based phone and call (888) 606-8889; callers will automatically be routed to the WAP provider serving their county. Cell phones will not make this automatic connection.
As stimulus funds flow, there will be a variety of procurement opportunities and new jobs created. All fund recipients must post any procurement opportunities on the Department’s Web site at www.tdhca.state.tx.us/recovery/bids.htm. Also, as TDHCA administers these funds, it will provide regular reports on job creation.
About The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is the state agency responsible for affordable housing, community services, energy assistance, colonia housing programs, and disaster recovery housing programs. It currently administers over $1 billion through for-profit, nonprofit, and local government partnerships to deliver local housing and community-based opportunities and assistance to Texans in need.