BAYONNE, N.J. – Demonstrating the Christie Administration’s commitment to assisting vulnerable New Jersey households and to efficiently using federal stimulus dollars, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III today announced that the Department weatherized 22,419 housing units across the state as part of the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act’s (ARRA) Weatherization Assistance Program. The weatherization effort helped senior citizens, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals improve heating system efficiency in their homes and conserve energy.
“Reaching this remarkable milestone demonstrates that DCA’s talented and dedicated staff were up to the challenge of administering a program that received a huge infusion of funding as part of the federal government’s economic stimulus effort,” said Commissioner Constable. “The Department worked hard, stayed the course, and exceeded the previous administration’s goal of 13,400 housing units. As a result, more New Jersey residents in need are benefitting from energy efficient homes and lower utility costs.”
The State of New Jersey received $119 million in Weatherization Assistance Program funding in 2009 under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). ARRA included a one-time appropriation of $5 billion nationwide for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which represented an approximately five-fold increase over the program’s 2008 funding level. The expanded program in New Jersey, which ran from April 1, 2009, to December 31, 2012, was aimed at lowering energy bills for low-income families in the state and stimulating economic activity.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy*, every weatherized housing unit saves its occupants an average of up to $400 annually on energy bills. Low-income households spend a higher percentage of their total income on energy bills, according to the same DOE study.
In administering the program, the DCA partnered with the NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and 24 community-based agencies around the state to identify potential applicants, certify eligibility, and provide weatherization services to eligible dwelling units. Weatherization services included weatherstripping, caulking, insulation, and heating system repairs, retrofits and replacements. DCA fully expended the $119 million in funding to the benefit of the citizens of New Jersey.
Today’s announcement was made at Post Road Gardens, an affordable senior housing community in Bayonne, NJ, that has a large number of disabled residents. Because of the ARRA Weatherization Assistance Program, all 250 residential apartments at Post Road Gardens received weather stripping, window and door caulking, and energy efficient refrigerators, showerheads, faucet aerators, and lighting fixtures. Also, the building itself was fitted with state-of-the-art energy efficient HVAC equipment.
“These energy-efficient measures have resulted in reduced carbon emissions, substantial cost savings to the building, and improved resident health and safety,” said Ana Quintela, Executive Director of the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation, which managed the weatherization project at Post Road Gardens. “It is programs such as this that allow less fortunate individuals to live comfortably while conserving energy and saving on monthly bills.”
Since 1976, the federal Weatherization Assistance Program has provided weatherization services to approximately 7.4 million households nationwide.
The DCA’s partnering community-based agencies include the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation; Bergen County CAP; Burlington County CAP; Camden County Council on Economic Opportunity; Cape Human Resources in Rio Grande; Check-Mate, Inc. in Asbury Park; Conservation Services Group in Iselin; First Hopewell Multi-Purpose Center in Newark; Gateway Community Action Partnership in Bridgeton; Isles Inc. in Trenton; La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark; Mercer County Housing; Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs; Native American Advancement Corp. in Bridgeton; Northwest CAP in Phillipsburg; Ocean, Inc. in Toms River; Passaic County Weatherization; Paterson Task Force; PROCEED Inc. in Elizabeth; Puerto Rican Action Board in New Brunswick; Puertorriqueños Asociados for Community Organization, Inc. in Jersey City; Spanish American Social Cultural Association of New Jersey in Willingboro; Somerset County CAP; and United Passaic Organization.
For more information on the Weatherization Assistance Program administered by the DCA, go to http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/wap.html on the DCA website.