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Mar. 21, 2012

More Than 2,000 Affordable NY Apartments to Benefit from Weatherization Assistance Program

By Jessica Fiur, News Editor

New York—In New York City, 2,000 low-income housing units will benefit from reduced energy consumption and cost, improved indoor air quality and better-trained maintenance staff. This is because the City and State of New York, along with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Enterprise Communities Partners, have invested $18 million to make the city’s affordable housing greener.  The funds for this came through the Weatherization Assistance Program, in partnership with New York State Homes and Community Renewal and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Enterprise and LISC weatherized 2,226 apartments across all of the boroughs of New York City. These improvements are expected to reduce energy consumption in the buildings by 24 percent and cut carbon emissions by 23 percent.

“By weatherizing more buildings within our budget, we proved that not only is it possible to make existing affordable housing more energy efficient, but that it’s possible to do it in a cost-effective and sustainable way,” Abby Jo Sigal, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise, said in a press statement. “We hope our lessons learned will help to enable other community development organizations to green their properties, extend the lives of their buildings, lower their operating costs and create healthier, affordable homes for low-income families.”

Enterprise and LISC were committed not only to helping affordable housing communities go green, but also to do so in a cost-effective way.

“Enterprise is committed to making green practice common practice, and bringing the health, economic, and environmental benefits of green building to low-income communities. Our work with LISC on the Weatherization Assistance Program underscores this commitment and shows that it’s possible to retrofit multifamily buildings in a cost-effective and sustainable way,” Bomee Jung, senior program director, Enterprise Green Communities, tells MHN. “Enterprise and LISC took a portfolio-based approach to this program–something that really hasn’t been done before. That was key to the success of this program, and we plan to continue to green multifamily buildings at scale in New York City to bring more healthy housing to our low-income neighborhoods.”

Improvements to buildings included adding insulation into the walls, replacing windows, upgrading air quality and installing energy-efficient boilers and hot water heaters. Additionally, new heating and hot water controls, water-conserving plumbing fixtures and EnergyStar light fixtures and refrigerators were added.

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) also included engaging residents, focusing on portfolios instead of individual buildings and monitoring buildings post-construction.

For the weatherization, maximum assistance was limited to $6,500 per unit.

The LISC-Enterprise WAP collaboration is part of the New York State WAP, the largest residential energy conservation program in the country, which receives funding from the U.S. Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services.

The New York City WAP issuance was available to buildings in need of improvements to upgrade building systems and improve energy efficiency. Federal program regulations required that eligible buildings be occupied by residents with incomes at or below 60 percent of the state median income, equal to an annual household income of $49,584 for a family of four.

Officials were pleased with the results of this program.

“Congratulations to LISC and Enterprise for exceeding their goals and making more than 2,000 homes safe, energy-efficient and more affordable for low-income families,” Darryl C. Towns, commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes & Community Renewal, said in a press statement.

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