FY 2002 State Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Option Program
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made grant awards
totaling $5,470,181 to six states under the Residential Energy Assistance
Challenge Option Program (REACH) for FY 2002. This is the seventh
distribution of REACH funds.
Maine, Rhode Island and Georgia received an additional $100,000 each for energy efficiency education proposals that met specified standards.
STATE OF MAINE $900,000*
Maine State Housing Authority
The Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) will contract with the Western Maine Community Action Program (WMCA) located in East Wilton, Maine to provide REACh services to Franklin County households. This agency is the Community-Based Organization (CBO), the primary point of entry to available services for low-income households in this county.
The target population will be approximately 120 low-income households living in mobile homes throughout Franklin County with high-energy burdens. The program will deliver a three-tiered intervention model, consisting of:
- Provision of energy conservation education, with a focus on
the implementation of self-help energy reduction measures.
- Home audits to target population households, those with the
highest energy burden, to result in specific conservation recommendations
and/or referrals such as Weatherization.
- The provision of Energy Use Reduction Measures, to include Replacement of Electric Hot Water tank with a special design Nyletherm heat pump water heater, Weatherization Kits, fluorescent lighting, including Energy Efficient Education Service Plan (EEESP).
The proposal emphasizes energy conservation in response to its relatively high costs, which will have the highest positive impact on household energy burden if we concentrate on total energy consumption. All proposed interventions are scheduled for completion within the first 24 months of the project.
This proposal also includes an Energy Efficiency Education Services Plan (EEESP).
The proposal emphasizes electrical energy conservation in response to its relatively high costs, and because our experience indicates we will have the highest positive impact on household energy burden if we concentrate on electrical energy consumption. All proposed interventions are scheduled for completion within the first 12 months of the project.
The CBO will identify and select 120 qualified households within their service area to receive services in this pilot project. MSHA will select another 120 mobile homes outside of Franklin County to be a Control group. This will result in a total of 240 households participating in the study.
* Includes $100,000 for the Energy Efficiency Education Plan
STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS $1,000,000
Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will operate a REACh Program along with the Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (ABCD) in the urban core of Boston; and Action, Inc., in a small city and surrounding urban communities Cape Ann. The LASER (Leveraging Assets for Self-sufficiency through Energy Resources) Program will demonstrate a holistic approach to helping low-income households become energy self-sufficient. This initiative utilizes four inter-linked program innovations to build long-term gains in self-sufficiency for approximately 900 client households during the 3-year course of the program:
- Case-Managed "one-stop" Services to Coordinate
self-sufficiency Interventions. An enhanced intake, referral
and follow-up process provides the most vulnerable applicants
for fuel assistance with a "one-stop shopping" model
- Aggressive Intervention to Reduce Debt and Resolve Utility
Arrearages. The project will work with local utilities
to provide arrearage forgiveness for low-income consumers, in
return for engagement in a comprehensive literacy training.
- Expansion of access to benefits and resources which
can stabilize families and household budgets. Beginning
with immediate steps to reduce household energy burdens, the project
facilitates access to a broad range of housing and social service
resources which can prevent crises, reduce debt, and promote a
balanced household budget, support savings, and enable families
to invest in long-term assets such as homeownership, business
ownership, and education. The project will take an assertive role
in improving the accessibility of energy-related services, breaking
down barriers, which reduce utilization of a range of available
benefits, and promoting coordination among social service interventions.
- Financial Literacy and Asset-Development Programs Which Support long-term self-sufficiency. Utilizing effective models of consumer education pioneered by the partner agencies, the project will assist customers in moving up the next step of the self-sufficiency ladder. Project activities support savings, and enable families to invest in long-term assets such as home-ownership, business ownership, and education.
The LASER Project also addresses systemic issues, which reduce the capacity of energy program providers and other community institutions to assist families in moving toward energy self-sufficiency. The following elements are crucial to the project's capacity-building goals:
- Establishment of new outreach mechanisms for energy programs which utilize informal community networks, as well as culturally and linguistically appropriate messages;
- Creation of enhanced linkages among social service providers and programs, reducing red tape, logistical barriers, and duplication of effort; and
- Establishment of a strategy to develop on-going, secure funding for unified energy self sufficiency programs.
LASER draws on the lessons of successful REACH projects through the experience of key team members offering technical support, including Mark Wolfe, Theo MacGregor, Jerrold Oppenheim, and staff of the National Consumer Law Center. In order to assess the project's prospects for replication, it will be launched in two Community Action Agencies based in strikingly different service areas. In years Two and Three, the model will be extended to Other Community Action Programs in Massachusetts, enrolling a total of 900 consumers by its conclusion.
STATE OF KENTUCKY $370,181
Kentucky Department of Community Based Services
The Commonwealth of Kentucky and Community Action Council for Lexington - Fayette, Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas Counties will provide energy-efficiency and energy education services under the DHHS Office for Community Services REACh Program. The project will initially target households that have experienced the highest energy burden during the preceding year. Target households will include persons currently receiving case management services. The project anticipates serving 250 persons during the life of the project.
The REACh project will determine the best and most effective program materials to use as a means of education and integrate those into an effective curriculum. The project will use an individualized planning process for each household that is unique to its energy situation. The project will link households to current and objective information regarding natural gas service choices, and link households to utility sponsored assistance programs.
Finally, the project will demonstrate the effectiveness of linking energy self-sufficiency as a component of long-term case management in conducting these types of programs. In addition to education, the project will make use of demand-management devices in helping households reduce their energy consumption. Community Action Council, as the designated LIHEAP and CSBG grantee for Fayette, Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas Counties will make LIHEAP vendor payments and negotiate with home energy suppliers on behalf of REACH-eligible households.
STATE OF VIRGINIA $1,000,000
Virginia Department of Social Services
The Virginia Department of Social Services through its REACh Grant will develop and implement a client education component that will be integrated into the Virginia Weatherization Assistance Program, and will conduct an analysis of the effectiveness of the Virginia Weatherization Assistance Program.
The Department of Social Services will partner with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to implement this project. The Department of Housing and Community Development will contract with fourteen community-based organizations to begin implementation of the client education services. The fourteen organizations will train staff to serve as Energy Educators that will follow-up regular weatherization services with an in-house client meeting. Energy Educators will review the purpose and expected outcomes of weatherization, and will work with the clients to identify other energy-efficient measures the client can begin using to further reduce their home's energy consumption. Approximately 2,862 households will receive an energy education visit through the REACh project.
REACh funds will also be used to collect pre- and post-weatherization energy consumption data. Over the three-year period, 316 homes will be monitored. Once collected, the data will be analyzed to determine the overall effectiveness-in terms of energy consumption reduction-of the weatherization program. Data will also be analyzed to determine which weatherization measures produce the highest savings-to-benefit ratio.
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND $1,100,000*
Rhode Island State Energy Office
The Rhode Island State Energy Office, in partnership with the Tri-Town Community Action Agency, which also manages and operates another CAA in South County, will achieve the following goals within the three-year project period as follows:
- Reduce the energy burden by reducing consumption and increasing
energy economic literacy for the target families;
- Increase income for individuals and families by use of subsidies
and cooperative functions for disproportionate housing and energy
costs in relation to limited income;
- Attain multifaceted integrated support systems consistent with
the complexity of demands of poverty on families; and
- Validate that community-based organizations which earn the trust of families can be powerful learning settings and often serve as the prime educators for low income children and parents.
The State REACh Program strategy proposes to make the immediacy of energy education play a critical role to make a real difference in committing LIHEAP households to learning energy efficiency education and resource education.
The Rhode Island Energy Office will utilize eight Community Action Agencies, state-wide, that are currently LIHEAP/WAP/AMP vendors and who have the capacity to provide an innovative REACh initiative due to the fact that they have the skills, knowledge and expertise in their own communities to identify and address the systematic problem of unaffordable energy for low-income people and their families. The interventions to be applied in increasing depth to families choosing to participate in the program include, but are not limited to:
- Energy efficiency education and resource education;
- Responding to energy crises such as emergency rental assistance
to avoid eviction, dislocation and homelessness, high energy use
leading to weatherization plus education and an electric conservation
- More intensive extensive energy education carried out primarily
through the caseworkers assigned by collaborating programs, applying
a focused holistic family development model; and
- Impacting the individual families by developing group participation and leadership skills in working towards energy self-sufficiency.
The Rhode Island State Energy Office through its partnerships with the collaborating CAAs will initiate an innovative program that will result in a statewide delivery reduction intervention to LIHEAP households.
*Includes $100,000 for the Energy Efficiency Education Plan
STATE OF GEORGIA
Georgia Department or Human Resources (DHR)
The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) in collaboration with the Partnership for Community Action, Inc. will:
- Identify and educate target households through the Partnership for Community Action, Inc. in the 100 to 125% poverty-level range;
- Measure specific interventions designed to create a self-sufficient, empowered group of informed energy consumers who are capable of dealing with their energy requirements and their providers, thereby lessening dependency; and
- Increase their capability to pay necessary energy burdens in a timely and consistent manner; and
- Avoid situations leading to homelessness and disruption of energy services.
This project recognizes that energy provider relationships are crucial to the process, as is the education of participating households, and, in some cases, the installation of energy-saving/safety devices or weatherization improvements in homes. An in-depth analysis/evaluation of intervention results addressing shortcomings frequently espoused by the General Accounting Office are proposed.
Three hundred participants will complete six-months' enrollment. Three hundred will serve as a control group. The Project provides tangible benefits that address some of the systemic barriers to energy self-sufficiency, and helps families identify areas in which knowledge and behavioral changes will make a difference to long-term energy burden and payments. Project goals are reducing household energy burden; increasing regularity of energy payments; and increasing energy suppliers' contributions to the goal of reducing household energy burden.
Project services include Energy Efficiency Education workshops, mediation with energy providers to reduce arrearages and establish reasonable payment plans, modified "weatherization" of housing units, supportive relationships with Energy Advocates to address barriers to energy self-sufficiency (including counseling in financial literacy and manageable budgeting), and referrals to other appropriate services that may reduce their expenditures or increase their usable income.
*Includes $100,000 for the Energy Efficiency Education Plan