Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) in Texas
Another housing program expanded by the 2009 Recovery Act was the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). WAP funds local agencies to provide minor home repairs to low-income Texans. These repairs increase the energy efficiency of the housing stock and reduce the heating and cool components of the housing cost.
The recovery act bumped up the funding of weatherization in Texas from $13 million to $327 million, a 2500% increase. Half of this funding has already been sent to Texas by the Department of Energy, and TDHCA has awarded it to some 66 local governments and non-profit agencies. This is an expansion from the 34 agencies funded under the program prior to the recovery act.
The details of the program are well summarized in fact sheets by the Center for Public Policy Priorities (Texas) and Green for All (National), so we won’t repeat them here, but we thought it was worth sharing some of the policy questions surrounding this program that we think are important:
- Is the program helping those who need it most? The income eligibility threshold for the program increased from 150% of the poverty level to 200%. Lower-income residents may require more outreach by the local agencies, and agencies may have incentive to skim the top of the eligible population. TDHCA should make sure that local agencies are both prioritizing and providing active outreach to families at or below the poverty level to make certain such families are benefiting from the program.
- Does the program training provide sustainable skills? The recovery act increased the funding available for training and technical assistance from 10% of the program funds to 20%. This is an opportunity for a strong job-training component of the program that can provide skills to workers that will outlast the temporary WAP funding. TDHCA should maximize the workforce development impact of this funding.
- Does the program actively enforce a high level of quality control? Weatherization is more than just caulking the holes in a house, and if done poorly can adverse affect air-quality. Weatherized homes should be inspected to ensure that the repairs created or maintained a healthful indoor environment in the home.
These are a few of the things we hope to follow as these programs get underway, and we’ll share any insights we discover here at Texas housers.
Additional resources for those interested in learning more:
National resources on the WAP program and the Recovery Act:
Texas resources on the WAP program and the Recovery Act: