WASHINGTON - In an effort to help struggling Americans alleviate some of the costs of high heating and cooling expenses, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Energy have tentatively agreed to pool their resources to initiate projects to weatherize and energy retrofit both rural and urban low-income homes and properties across the country.
“By making it as easy as possible for families to weatherize their homes, we can create new jobs that can’t be shipped oversees, save families money on their energy bills, and take another step toward energy independence,” said Steven Chu, secretary of the DOE.
The agreement comes in the form of a “memorandum of understanding” between the two agencies, which outlines their plans to use a combined a sum of up to $16 billion to implement their new programs. The funding is being provided as part the American Recovery and Revitalization Act of 2009’s stimulus package.
HUD’s programs will include:
- $4.5 billion to renovate and upgrade public and Native American housing, where a significant portion of which will be invested in energy improvements.
- $250 million for energy retrofits of privately owned federally assisted housing.
The DOE’s programs will include:
- $5 billion in weatherization funds.
- $3.2 billion for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, which can be used by cities, countries, states, and Indian Tribes to retrofit homes, among other uses.
- $3.1 billion for state energy programs.
Further detailing the collaboration between the two agencies, the memorandum states that “HUD will provide the DOE with a list of HUD qualified housing projects and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects that, based on HUD data, would meet the income eligibility requirements under the weatherization assistance program.”
In addition, “this agreement will also impact tens of thousands of residents in rural communities, mostly senior and low-income individuals who are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Multi+Family Housing Direct Loan Program,” according to White House information.
Still hammering out the details of their plans, HUD and the DOE plan to provide joint guidance within 60 days of the memorandum to all affected parties, including states, local governments, and non-profit partners, describing how these programs can be further aligned.
Furthermore, the two agencies intend to conduct a series of joint forums throughout the country to facilitate implementation of the memorandum, and to educate stakeholders on how to make it operational.