FY 1998 State REACH Awards
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced that grant awards were made to seven states under the Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Option Program (REACH) for FY 1998.
REACH funds are available only to LIHEAP grantees (states, territories, and Indian tribes/tribal organizations). As allowed by the LIHEAP statute, 25 percent of the funds set aside for the LIHEAP leveraging incentive program in FY 1998 were earmarked for the REACH program. In FY 1998, $25 million were earmarked for leveraging incentive grant awards; of this amount, $6,250,000 were set aside for REACH grants.
HHS received REACH applications from 29 States. Each application was evaluated by a panel of three independent reviewers, who gave each a numerical rating according to criteria included in the program announcement, with a maximum rating of 100 points. The applications were then ranked according to the average of the three reviewers' scores.
Following are a listing of the grantees funded in FY l998 under the REACH program and brief summaries of each project. Local agencies are listed when only a portion of a state's application was funded. One state grantee also qualified to receive an additional $100,000 to operate an energy efficiency education program.
Grantees wishing to receive information as to why their application was not funded in FY 1998 and what strengths and weaknesses were identified by the reviewers, should send a written request to: Ms. Anna Guidery, REACH Program Manager, Division of Community Demonstration Programs, Office of Community Services, ACF, HHS, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20447
LISTING OF FY 1998 GRANTEES UNDER THE
RESIDENTIAL ENERGY ASSISTANCE CHALLENGE OPTION PROGRAM (REACH)
|State Grantees||Amount Awarded|
|Alaska Department of Health and Social Services||$ 1,328,723|
|Arizona Department of Economic Security||$ 1,000,000|
|Illinois Dept. of Commerce & Community Affairs||$ 166,667|
|Iowa Department of Human Rights||$ 372,391|
|Maine State Housing Authority||$ 1,562,050*|
|Michigan Family Independence Agency||$ 337,437|
|Utah Dept. of Community & Economic Development||$ 433,853|
|State Total||$ 5,201,121|
* Includes $100,000 in energy efficiency education funds
THE FAMILY INDEPENDENCE AGENCY
GENESEE COUNTY COMMUNITY
ACTION AGENCY $198,548
Genesee County Community Action Agency is located in southeastern lower Michigan. The county comprises 659 square miles including suburban, urban and rural areas. The total number of residents in the county is 430,459. The assumptions made are that 1) many low-income families in Genesee County are often not able to regularly meet financial obligations related to energy cost, 2) many families do not understand the importance of energy conservation and need assistance in reducing their energy consumption, 3) current energy assistance services available in the county are crisis in nature and inadequate in scope and intensity to support and empower families in gaining energy self-sufficiency, and 4) a more coordinated approach to service delivery of energy, housing and other supportive services needs will benefit families by expanding services to each family, and supporting them in gaining energy self-sufficiency.
The overall program is designed to educate, support and empower families in gaining increased control over their lives through: 1) coordinated intake and enrollment of low -income families for REACH Program services upon enrollment into LIHEAP, Home Improvement, and Emergency Utility Services; 2) coordinated and integrated service delivery to participants; 3) ENERGY PLUS training; 4) support and assistance for families in energy savings planning; and 5) support and assistance for families in identifying needs and accessing services.
The outcomes which will result from the services/interventions
will support families in:
1) avoiding energy shut-offs and other such energy crisis situations; 2) lowering household energy costs; 3) decreasing energy-related household health/safety risks; 4) increasing knowledge and application of energy conservation and reduction measures; and, 5) increasing their ability and access to program services and other community resources in order to meet basic needs and ensure that energy obligations are met.
STATE OF MICHIGAN
THE FAMILY INDEPENDENCE AGENCY
SERVICES AGENCY $138,889
The Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency (DICSA) provides and promotes a variety of services and programs to low-income families, senior citizens and other populations with special needs. DISCA services the counties of Iron and Dickinson, in the western upper peninsula of Michigan bordering the state of Wisconsin.
The intent of the applicant is to reduce the overall energy use of low-income households, thereby lowering their energy costs that eventually will reduce their risk of being in an energy crisis during the winter months. This will be achieved by 1) replacing inefficient hot water heaters; 2) replacing inefficient refrigerators; 3) replacement of incandescent light bulbs in the house with compact florescent light bulbs; and 4) implementing a health and safety component by installing carbon monoxide detectors, radon test kits, and conducting a lead dust test in each qualifying home.
The applicant anticipates that they will be able to reduce the overall energy usage through appliance replacement, lighting changes and energy conservation education, which will result in the reduction of energy costs. Avoiding disconnect notices and shutoffs--which could lead to loss of utilities, reconnect charges, court judgments, wage garnishment, credit collections, and a poor credit report--could be addressed by reducing their energy costs.
As the families began to realize savings on their energy costs, this will enable them to keep their bills current, which eliminates the threat of shut-off or other energy crisis. It is the hope of the applicant that with the money saved, the household will be able to use those funds for other necessary living expenses. The final outcome would be that these families and households would be moving toward their goal of energy self-sufficiency.
MAINE STATE HOUSING
The Maine State Housing Authority proposes to initiate an innovative program to provide State-wide delivery of energy reduction interventions to Maine LIHEAP households. Proposed interventions will be delivered through the eleven (11) Community Action Program agencies (CAPS) located within the State. These agencies currently provide LIHEAP interventions, energy audits, weatherization program activities, and retro-fit projects, among others, and therefore are appropriate community-based organizations for this project.
REACH program activities initiated under this proposal will logically flow from information and activities conducted as part of a proposed Energy Efficiency Education Services Plan. The delivery of services developed within the EEE Services Plan will be the first step in a comprehensive energy conservation program that utilizes both EEE and REACH to achieve the project goal.
Although all energy consumption within LIHEAP households will be addressed, the program has a particular focus on electrical energy conservation in response to its relatively high cost, and in preparation for electric utility re-structuring, scheduled for the year 2000 in Maine.
The target population is the entire LIHEAP population in Maine, totaling 38,565 households. The program methodology proposes to deliver, through local CAP agency personnel, a four-tiered intervention model, consisting of:
- The distribution of conservation education information, and information to be used to make an educated utility provider selection under restructuring;
- Home energy audits to include recommendations for homeowner conservation activities, and referral to other energy crisis programming, as well as other needed services;
- Appliance repair and replacement and other Energy Use Reduction Measures; and,
- Heat system conversions in electrically heated households.
The project goal is: To assist low-income households in moving toward energy self-sufficiency through the successful implementation of energy conservation measures to result in a reduction in the energy cost burden in all low-income LIHEAP households.
* Includes Energy Efficiency Education Program
OF ECONOMIC SECURITY $1,000,000
The Arizona Department of Economic Security will implement a pilot Residential Energy Assistance Challenge (REACH) Option Program targeting low-income households whose energy costs are 16% of their income or higher. It will be implemented by the following community action Agencies:
- Coconino County Community Services Department
- Northern Arizona Council of Governments
- Western Arizona Council of Governments
- Community Action Human Resources Agency
- Gill County Community Action Program; and,
- Southeastern Arizona Human Resource Council.
The REACH project will test a holistic model of service delivery. REACH participants will receive priority for services that increase the energy efficiency of their homes; provide energy education to enable them to better manage energy use and make informed choices in the new competitive environment.
The Arizona Community Action Association will work with the Arizona Corporation Commission, the utility companies and the Arizona State Legislature to initiate a Universal Services Fund for utility-funded energy efficiency and energy education programs, to keep rate increases down, and provide discounts for low-income households as the Arizona electric utility industry is restructured.
The effectiveness of the REACH project in demonstrating that this comprehensive approach is more cost-effective than bill assistance will be evaluated during the three-year duration of the project.
IOWA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
MID-IOWA COMMUNITY ACTION, INC. $372,391
The Iowa Department of Human Rights will contract with Mid-Iowa Community Action, Inc. to recruit 105 high energy burden LIHEAP households in each of the two project years at three sites: a metropolitan neighborhood, an urbanized county, and two rural counties. REACH specialists will conduct at least two home visits with participant households to identify where and how they use energy, their current and potential sources of income (and income supplements), and budgeting strategies to meet housing living needs. Energy Rated Homes of Iowa will audit each participant home to determine the potential for additional envelope efficiencies. Participant households will select three to five strategies which 1) are most feasible, 2) will have the greatest impact on energy costs, income and expenses, and 3) will produce the longest lasting effects. Project specialists will meet with participants at least once between formulation of the Energy Burden Reduction Plan and the start of the next heating season.
A project advisory group will review project design and procedures, assess preliminary evaluation findings and other information, and recommend design modification in the second project cycle.
Low-income, high energy burden households in this project will achieve sustainable energy use and cost reductions because the interventions proposed are driven by data developed from a previous energy pilot project.
Finally, the proposed project will invest its energy and resources in systemic changes which will result in long term reduction in energy costs.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
COMMUNITY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
ASSOCIATION OF COOK COUNTY, INC. $166,667
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, through the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, Inc. (CEDA), will test an approach to lowering the energy burden of the most vulnerable households and demonstrate an increased ability for elderly LIHEAP-eligible households to achieve energy self-sufficiency.
This initiative is a sustainable energy burden reduction pilot for 125 elderly homeowners. CEDA is proposing an innovative partnership with Commonwealth Edison, Nicor Gas, and Berwyn/Cicero Council on Aging. This proposal combines: comprehensive weatherization, energy assistance (gas and electric utilities), conservation and energy management, household advocacy and counseling, budget management, direct computer linkup between agency and utilities, payment station (gas and electric), new client outreach, arrearage reduction and/or forgiveness, utilities waivers (i.e. deposits, late charges, etc.), and an evaluation of program measures (i.e. behavioral status, targets and goals).
The targeted population is 125 senior homeowners in Berwyn/Cicero, Illinois. The unique concept is the concentrated intervention, counseling and evaluation that ultimately reduces the annual energy burden by 10%. Frequent counseling and follow-up case management strategies will track and demonstrate the overall improvement in quality of life to this concentrated vulnerable population.
In addition to the reduction of the energy burdens for this population, it is expected that there will be a reduction of existing arrearage balances over time; a reduction of energy burdens through energy education and weatherization, and the establishment of regular consistent utility bill payment practices.
There are also multiple benefits that will continue to impact the lives of the REACH families and communities after this project, which include:
- An overall understanding of the ability to lower energy burdens;
- The continuation and extended practice in the community for the reduction of energy burdens for low-income households; and,
- Depending on project outcomes, the likelihood of statewide application.
THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
COMMUNITY ACTION SERVICES $433,853
The community-based organization chosen to provide REACH services is Community Action Services (CAS). The service area of CAS is the Mountainland Region of Utah (Utah, Wasatch and Summit Counties). An estimated 1,700 single parent heads of households, with children, live in poverty in the Mountainland Region.
The current available resources in the Mountainland Region are unable to bridge the gap between families' incomes and the inability to pay all of their living costs because of the high cost of housing and utilities. The two major regulated utility companies in Utah offer equal pay plans, a winter moratorium shut-off program and deferred payment arrangements for families behind on their payments.
The serious housing shortage and high cost of housing, the lack of utility regulation, high heating costs, cold winters and low wages places many Utahans in serious jeopardy in regard to their ability to pay heating costs. In addition, the Utah culture and stigma against seeking assistance outside of family or church add to the challenges faced by Utah families when they have an energy crisis.
The Utah REACH Program will improve the ability of Utah households to address their energy needs as follows:
- The program promotes self reliance, which is a strong component of Utahan's culture;
- The energy conservation classes, self-help conservation kits and budget counseling are all much more readily acceptable forms of assistance in Utah than the regular LIHEAP program, which is sometimes seen as a form of welfare;
- The very good relationship between the State, Community Action Services and the utility companies allows for ease in negotiation and partnering in assisting families in need;
- The program will be built upon the input of low-income persons;
- The program will address the barriers to participation (homebound persons, language, transportation, etc.) ; and,
- The staff and community involved have the capability and enthusiasm to be successful.
The project, which is built upon energy education, individual financial counseling in crisis situations, referrals to other community resources, self-help kits, and a furnace retrofit program, will have a positive impact upon the behavior and life styles of the participants and their families and result in real energy cost savings.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES
RURAL ALASKA COMMUNITY ACTION
PROGRAM, INC. (RURAL CAP) $1,328,723
The State of Alaska REACH Program/Energy Conservation Initiative will build the capacity of rural Alaskans to recognize and act upon energy conservation opportunities in their homes. In conjunction with Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc., the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services will provide the following services to rural Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) recipients and their communities: 1) energy-efficiency education ; 2) residential energy demand management services; 3) family services; and, 4) facilitation of negotiation with home energy suppliers.
The Rural CAP Alaska EPA AmeriCorps Program will provide a successful, well developed vehicle for implementing the Energy Conservation Initiative. Each year, 25 AmeriCorps Members will devote 20% of their year of service to address energy conservation issues and design and implement energy conservation activities in their own communities.
Through the Energy Conservation Initiative, AmeriCorps Members will provide a comprehensive approach to energy needs in rural Alaskan communities. While all households in each of 75 AmeriCorps Members communities (25 communities/year x 3 years) will be served through some activities, the program will primarily be aimed at serving current LIHEAP recipients. LIHEAP recipients in non-AmeriCorps Member communities statewide will also benefit from an annual conservation bulletin.
Combining energy-efficiency education with direct home improvements, energy-efficient product incentives, and financial planning and budgeting for energy needs, this program will reduce individual and community dependence on expensive energy resources.