Pennsylvania Housing Agency Launches Program to Control Energy Costs for Affordable Housing

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorGreensburg/Harrisburg, Pa.–The West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (WPPSEF) and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) are collaborating to preserve affordable apartment units in 23 western and central Pennsylvania counties.The two organizations will work together to lower the expense of heating and cooling multifamily dwellings to make sure high energy prices don’t increase costs for fixed-income older Pennsylvanians, families with lower incomes, or persons with disabilities.Under the two-year program called Preservation through Smart Rehab, WPPSEF and PHFA will provide funds to determine how apartment buildings use energy, and to pay for modifications to make them more efficient. As much as $600,000 will be expended on this pioneering joint venture, which should affect no fewer than 30 complexes.“The cost of energy is one of the most important components in affordable housing,” says Brian A. Hudson, PHFA executive director. “It is the deciding factor in the economic feasibility for many older properties. That’s why WPPSEF and PHFA view this effort as being so important.”PHFA will select properties to participate in the program, arrange for energy audits, and review the resulting reports. These “diagnostic” reviews will become the basis for replacing, repairing or improving energy delivery and conservations systems in the subject projects. Michele Ponchione, WPPSEF president, says such cooperation between the nonprofit and public sectors encourages other mutual efforts.