Grant to Offer Solar Power for Low-Income Communities

Grant to Offer Solar Power for Low-Income Communities

Posted on September 16, 2015

Nine organizations, including Self-Help Enterprises, will collectively receive $170,000 in grants to equip affordable single- and multi-family homes with solar power, announced NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. The average household pays nearly $170 each month in energy costs, and the typical homeowner saves more than $1,000 a year on electricity by installing roof-top solar panels.

Under NeighborWorks America’s partnership with GRID Alternatives, the country’s largest nonprofit solar installer, 68 homes and 6 multifamily buildings serving 50 farmworker families will be equipped with solar panels. NeighborWorks America will provide funding to offset the cost of each solar installation for the local grant recipients and GRID Alternatives will provide training, technical assistance and thousands of additional dollars to each project.

Solar Panels on Homes
“NeighborWorks America is increasing its support of low-income communities by giving them access to greener, more efficient power,” said Paul Weech, chief executive officer at NeighborWorks America chief executive officer. “We are helping to lower the utility costs for individuals and families around the country, and we are pleased to join in this partnership with GRID Alternatives. Together we are increasing the access of low-income families to solar power.”

The solar installation grant recipients are:

  • Visalia, CA: Self-Help Enterprises
  • Eatontown, NJ: Affordable Housing Alliance
  • Centereach, NY: Community Development Corporation of Long Island
  • Westminster, CO: Community Resources and Housing Development Corp.
  • New York, NY: Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City
  • Ontario, CA: Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services
  • Rochester, NY: NeighborWorks Rochester
  • Kingston, NY: RUPCO
  • Camden, NJ: St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society

Over the past several years, Self-Help Enterprises has worked closely with GRID Alternatives to provide rooftop solar to over 100 self-help homebuilders in the San Joaquin Valley. The funding from this grant will provide rooftop solar to twelve homes in the community of Gail Estates in Tulare. The twelve homes were constructed under Self-Help Enterprises’ mutual self-help housing program by low-income families at or below 80% of the area median income. Through the program, families provide over 70 percent of the construction labor. These labor hours, or “sweat equity”, are used as the down payment on their new home.

All of the solar projects in the partnership will provide hands-on professional-development opportunities in the booming solar industry for local trainees in each community. Trainees will come from the local community, including students from area community colleges and job-training programs, as well as from GRID Alternatives’ SolarCorps Fellowship Program, which recently received a major investment from the federal AmeriCorps program. According to the U.S. Census, solar installation jobs offer wages of $20-$24 an hour, but usually do not require advanced education.

For more information, view the solar infographic and energy-saving tips.

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