Pilot housing department program to pave way for energy improvements



(The Center Square) – Maryland’s Weatherization Assistance Program recently received $45 million in federal funding, $4 million of which will go toward preparing older, limited-income Maryland homes to receive energy upgrades.

The improvements are through a newly established program, the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Retrofits Pilot Program.

Close to 40% of Maryland homes that have been assessed for energy efficiency improvements aren’t ready for them because of health or safety reasons – meaning that other repairs need to be made before energy systems can be addressed. Until the creation of the retrofits pilot program, there wasn’t a way to direct funds from existing energy programs in the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development to this particular issue.

“Through this pilot program, we’re opening the door for more Maryland homes to meet their energy efficiency goals,” said Gov. Wes Moore.

The department consolidated some of its rehabilitation programs to make room for the retrofits pilot – a program designed to serve both rehabilitative and energy efficiency purposes.

With the $4 million in grants, the program will facilitate repairs to nearly 300 homes in six Maryland jurisdictions – Allegany, Garrett, Howard and St. Mary’s counties, and Baltimore and Frederick.

A spokewoman for the department explained why these jurisdictions were selected. She said the grants the intent is for energy work and rehabilitation work to happen at the same time; the grants are awarded to organizations the department already works with on energy efficiency upgrades in jurisdictions throughout the state.

“Creating safer, more energy-efficient homes is one part of ensuring that legacy homeowners are able to maintain their dignity throughout life,” said department Secretary Jake Day. “By integrating these means of assistance and eliminating barriers in the process for receiving them, we can help Marylanders stay in their homes longer, more comfortably, and with fewer risks to their health and wellness.”

Once the pilot program has done its work, then other programs, like the Weatherization Assistance Program, can step in. The WAP is designed to help reduce residential energy consumption, both to benefit income-eligible homeowners and renters directly, through lower energy bills.

“Encouraging these energy improvements at the residential level – and ensuring that they can be made efficiently – is an important step in addressing our climate challenges,” Moore said.

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