Don’t bypass low income homeowners in weatherization program

The GAO recently issued its bimonthly report of activities funded by the Recovery Act (ARRA)  in Texas, including a discussion of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

The good news for TDHCA is that the GAO stated ” TDHCA has internal controls for WAP to help ensure that Recovery Act funds are spent according to program objectives and the state’s 44 subgrantees are adequately monitored.”

The primary criticism in the report is not new, as the GAO states “delay in weatherizing homes has delayed realization of the potential economic benefits of the Recovery Act funds allocated to WAP and energy savings for many low-income Texans eligible for weatherization assistance.”

We’ve discussed this challenge here before, stating we’d rather the Texas program do weatherization right than do it quick.  As such, we are troubled by the report’s statement “To complete weatherization work on the target number of homes statewide, TDHCA plans to increase its attention on weatherizing multifamily units.”

Multifamily and Single family units should not be considered interchangeable in this program.  We discourage TDHCA from bypassing eligible homeowners to weatherize extra apartment buildings.  Low income Texans in homes and apartments deserve to be served by this program.

The detailed discussion of the GAO report also touches on work quality issues in the program.  We’ve recently submitted a Pubic Information Act request to TDHCA on this issue, and we’ll be reviewing quality monitoring reports at the department this week.  Stay tuned.