FY 2001 Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Option Program
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made grant awards
totaling $1,327,703 to one territory and eight tribes under the
Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Option Program (REACH) for
FY 2001. This is the sixth distribution of REACH funds.
One of the tribal winners received $25,000 for energy efficiency education proposals that met specified standards.
INDIAN TRIBES/TRIBAL ORGANIZATIONS
AND TERRITORY REACH AWARDS: $1,327,703
Blackfeet Nation (Montana)
Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes (Alaska)
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians (Michigan)
Lumbee Tribe (North Carolina)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes (Idaho)
South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency (Washington)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
BLACKFEET NATION $150,000
The Blackfeet Nation of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation will implement a REACH program targeting energy assistance to low-income families living on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The underlying assumption is that Blackfeet low-income families lack the opportunity to access a means by which to be motivated to reduce energy dependency and to access practice and be educated in energy conservation.
The design framework of the Blackfeet REACH program is one that is community-based and outreach-oriented and easy access to energy conservation education, practices and techniques. The approach will be energy conservation education and community-based, hands-on training. The Blackfeet REACH program will be two-pronged in its approach to helping Blackfeet low-income families reduce energy dependency.
First, low-income families will have better access to energy conservation services on the Reservation through the creation of a Blackfeet Tribal Energy Conservation Department. There currently is no central organization for providing energy conservation services. It will network and oversee all programs and resources available to low-income families. The Energy Conservation Department will be integrated into LIHEAP with the LIHEAP Director doubling as the Department Director. Secondly, the REACH program, which will be within the Energy Conservation Department, will provide energy conservation education and awareness services to low-income families in the form of community workshops. The Project Coordinator will provide classroom-type education to the general public, plan, develop and implement a Train-the-Trainer component of the REACH program. A Field Services Coordinator will assist the Project Coordinator by performing in-home visits, in the field hands-on training and in-home education and awareness. The Field Services Coordinator will also oversee the construction of any and all energy conservation projects within the Energy Conservation Department.
CENTRAL COUNCIL TLINGIT & HAIDA
INDIAN TRIBES $175,000
The Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska have developed an innovative and cost effective REACH program that has delivered sustained documented regional impacts in promoting energy self sufficiency for low income Native families faced with a household energy crisis. This program has shown how targeted energy outreach, household energy budgeting and financial planning, combined with energy payment incentives can strengthen low income families, bring communities together to address common self sufficiency challenges, and provide a linkage between energy program services and other Central Council programs and opportunities for which low income families may be eligible.
The Central Council has successfully carried out four previous REACH projects and is uniquely positioned to deliver REACH services to low income Native families within southeast Alaska. The project model that has been developed and refined over the past three projects is based on utilizing REACH program services as a means of outreach and intervention for isolated low income families, and providing these families with the technical support, training and incentives to gain control of their energy costs, and to access other services through an overall self-sufficiency program model.
The project has benefited in the past year from the development of the Central Council's "one stop shopping" program database. A single intake and assessment form can be used for eligible families regardless of the program services they are accessing, thus reducing paperwork and increasing the efficiency of service delivery.
A further project model improvement will be a focus on TANF participants as a primary target group for REACH services. The Central Council will target the REACH program on communities that have expressed an interest in participating in the REACH/ROMA model for energy intervention as a demonstration project. The communities include Juneau, Haines, Petersburg, Wrangell, Metlakatla, Craig, and Klawock, and Saxman.
CHOCTAW NATION OF OKLAHOMA
The Choctaw Nation will directly implement the REACH program to assist low-income families in an effort to achieve energy self-sufficiency and ultimate independence from energy assistance payments. Project activities will be closely coordinated with the Choctaw Nation's LIHEAP program. Activities will include the following:
- direct services provided with the objective of promoting a reduction
in long term energy burdens, and may include the purchase, on
behalf of the applicants, of propane tanks, gas line plumbing,
ceiling fans, room air conditioners, electrical outlets insulators,
wood burning stoves, weather stripping, door sweeps, insulation
awnings, blinds/shades, window and door screens, reflective solar
control film and other such home energy needs; and,
- the REACH Coordinator will negotiate with fuel vendors to waive or lower deposits and waive membership fees, negotiate special rates, negotiate to lower or waive connection fees and overdue payments, and finally negotiate reasonable payment plans; in addition the REACH Coordinator will council low-income households on needs assessment related to energy budget management, payment plans and related services and energy conservation measures.
Each household receiving direct services will receive counseling.
GRAND TRAVERSE BAND OF OTTAWA &
CHIPPEWA INDIANS $103,575
The Grand Traverse Band will operate a one-year REACH Project for eligible Native American households within its six-county rural service area in northwestern Michigan.
The REACH initiatives of the Tribal Plan are designed to enhance and increase the ability of eligible Indian households to meet energy costs and help them achieve self-sufficiency. The major components of the Grand Traverse Band REACH project are 1) to set up educational classes at each of the three satellite sites and on the main reservation. These classes will educate Tribal members on weatherization of their homes and carbon monoxide poisoning, and 2) to repair deteriorating roofs on low-income eligible Tribal members' homes. Repairing the roofs will reduce their heating bills.
The proposed REACH project will result in reductions in health and safety risk associated with CO2 poisoning and non-weatherization of the home as well as the complications of a deteriorating roof. These activities will help lower the amount that individuals pay on heating bills. The project director will utilize the considerable resources of the GTB governmental services through referrals of project participants for health services and housing repair services.
Lumbee Regional Development Association (LRDA) will implement a REACH project to assist LIHEAP eligible households primarily located in the Enhanced Enterprise Community Zones of Robeson County, to continue to make significant improvements in their family stability by reducing their energy burden, decreasing the potential for a utility cut-off, increasing the likelihood of on-time utility payments, and increasing their potential for energy self-sufficiency. Specifically, the REACH program will target 150 Indian low-income, LIHEAP eligible households in the Enhanced Empowerment Zone areas which are at 100% or less of the current federal poverty guidelines and have either an elderly person (60+ years), or a disabled person in the household. This number of households represents 18% of the total LIHEAP households in this category served by LRDA.
We have decided to target and focus on rural isolated, very low-income elderly and disabled households experiencing greater physical and mental frailty because these are the most difficult to serve and often represent the greatest need.
Based on lessons learned from the low-income community and from our previous REACH program experience, we have reconfigured our mix of energy saving devices including a major use of CFL bulbs. The LRDA REACH project will meet identified needs through a combined program of low-cost weatherization, low-flow shower heads, air conditioner filters, energy efficient lighting, thermostat checks, storm door replacement and energy audits. We will continue to build upon our existing partnership with local utility companies, energy vendors, and community service agencies to provide training in household budgeting (to plan for energy bill payment within overall household spending), weatherization, and energy efficiency. Energy conservation workshops will be conducted with energy audits prepared to evaluate the results of REACH intervention as opposed to those households outside the project's primary Enhanced Empowerment Zone service area.
CHEYENNE REACH PROGRAM $150,000
The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation is located in southeastern Montana. We propose to provide an avenue to help eligible households to make significant improvements in sustaining and stabilizing their family life styles by providing alternatives to reduce their energy costs. The Northern Cheyenne LIHEAP project will identify these needs and through low-cost, measurable weatherization activities in all five districts.
We will assist those families meeting our guidelines with their energy costs. We will provide weather-stripping, energy efficient lighting, thermostat replacements, window shades, furnace filters, appliance replacement, plowing of roads to homes in the winter months, electrical draft stopper outlet and switch seals. We will continue to improve our energy conservation education of households. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe of the United States and is eligible to apply as a non-profit organization under the Indian Self-Determination and Education grants directly from DHHS under the LIHEAP and Community Services Block Grant Program. As a LIHEAP grantee we presently use LIHEAP funds as our major source to implement our Program.
We also receive local funds from Tongue River Electric Cooperative, CSBG funds and Tribal Charity Funds from the St. Labre Indian Educational Association. The Tribal LIHEAP will implement its REACH project directly without delegation for no more than seventeen months. We will provide non-monetary benefits to low-income participants in meeting their energy costs and to help with energy efficient home improvements. Our REACH services will reduce the health and safety risks associated with high energy costs that are beyond the resources of many of our clients on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, through the Community Access Program, will operate an innovative REACH grant designed to reduce energy consumption on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The Project will utilize the latest technology such as solar energy, windmills, and public education as ways to reduce energy consumption.
The project comes from a need to save energy and reduce heating bills for low-income families. Programs such as LIHEAP assists families with heating bills during the winter months, however, with energy prices, such as natural gas, electricity, and propane rising at a fast rate, families are more dependent on the Community Access Program for assistance. The main goal of the grant is to reduce dependence on those programs by making families self-reliant.
The Tribes hope to see between 5% to 10% reduction in energy consumption.
SOUTH PUGET INTERTRIBAL
The SPIPA 2001 REACH project model has been developed in response to a deepening low-income household energy crisis among the 5 Tribes. This crisis is characterized by projected increases of over 250% in household energy costs within the next 6-12 months, combined with the probability of rolling blackouts upcoming year.
The FY 2001 REACH project model will demonstrate how to utilize the REACH and LIHEAP programs as a proactive outreach, education, and counseling service to address household energy consumption issues, while also connecting these low income families with other SPIPA programs and services through an effective referral system. The target population is comprised of those in greatest need of energy assistance, those who because of income, age, or disability are vulnerable to health and safety problems, and those families participating in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
The FY 2001 activities, designed based on the 1996 and 1998 REACH programs, include assessments, money management workshops, debt counseling, energy management workshops and incentives. All activities are designed in consultation with tribal community members; all activities will occur on-site, at reservation tribal centers; and, existing tribal staff and community members will be used to deliver services where feasible.
U.S. INSULAR AREA
OF NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
Department of Community & Cultural Affairs
The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, Office of the Secretary, Administrative Unit will administer the REACH project within a 17-month period. Throughout this period, the project will clearly address the following: a) the need for customers to comprehend budget and budget maters; b) the need for public education on energy assistance and conservation; and c) the need to achieve energy self-sufficiency.
Through the above interventions of budget comprehension and budget matters, maximization of public awareness through public education involving the community, public and private agencies and schools; the recommending of energy options and a network of government and private agencies addressing the importance of consumption and conservation, this project's goals will be met.
This REACH plan involves several agencies: Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and the Department of Energy; the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor, and other executive branch offices such as the Department of Health Services' Division of Environmental Protection/Quality and the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.