Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Priority question

The CDBG Task Force is honored to review RFPs for the affordable housing money appropriated this year. I am very proud of the work we have done so far. This community has a lot of people doing great work in the housing arena. We look very carefully at the RFPs because of the limited amount of money and the great need.

The other day, I read an article in the Progress regarding priorities for the next budget cycle. This paragraph stood out

"Early next year the council is likely to vote on setting a lower real estate tax rate for energy-efficient homes and buildings. And a majority of councilors have come out in favor of handing out compact fluorescent light bulbs to residents, subsidizing energy audits for low-income families and increasing Charlottesville’s tree canopy." My emphasis.

On the task force we have reviewed two different grant applications submitted for the purpose of providing energy audits for low income families. As a board, we love the idea, but we are constantly battling with limited resources - if given an energy audit, these low income homeowners would not necessarily receive the funding to actually implement the strategy outlined by the audit. To be fair a recent RPF suggested a $500 maximum to implement some of the strategies(although the homeowner would be reimbursed, so on the front end would need to outlay the money).

I wonder how many people think energy audits for low-income homeowners would end up being overall a savings for the homeowners (especially if there is no implementation strategy)/taxpayers (who presumably would have to pay less for heating programs and the like). How many middle-class homeowners would like an energy audit? How many would pay for it? I suspect a lot.

At this point, my thought is money could be going to rehab and weatherization, actual repairs on homes that are substandard with attention paid to energy efficiency while repairing.

I suspect a lot of middle-class homeowners would like the opportunity to pay for an energy audit and strategies for implementing efficiency in their homes. If the group is successful with that model, the low-income homeowners audits could be subsidized by the middle class audits- just a thought.

Am I off base? Or should the priority be energy audits to low income homeowners?

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