[Photo: Two men working]
Photo by Danielle Peterson of The Salem Statesman Journal The Statesman Journal

SALEM, OREGON - Oregon is one of the five "greenest" states in America, the Web site Greenopia reported this past May. And now, thanks to HUD's Green Retrofits for Multifamily Housing funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it's going to get even greener.

Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Green Retrofit program is designed to create thousands of green jobs as workers retrofit older federally assisted multi-family apartment developments with the next generation of energy efficient technologies. The $100 million program is expected to retrofit at least 100 assisted housing complexes nationwide.

Three Green Retrofit grants were awarded competitively in Oregon - $258,426 to REACH Community Development Corporation's 20-unit Powell Boulevard Apartments in southeast Portland, $1,023,924. to Volunteers of America's 53-unit Whispering Pines complex in Estacada and $730,092 to the Salem Housing Authority's 50-unit Englewood East Apartments.

The grants were announced by HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride on a bright, sunny day in August. It was good news for the communities and HUD was also happy because the Green Retrofit grant program is yet another step in its partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Labor to, as HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has explained, "use Recovery Act funds to put Americans back to work" and to "spur a new home energy efficiency industry that could create tens of thousands of jobs."

The owners of the properties - all for low-income elderly and people with disabilities - are happy. Many of the buildings in the Green Retrofit program are 30 years old. The more efficient heating and cooling systems, new windows, doors and roofs, new siding and insulation that can be installed will greatly extend the useful life of the buildings.

The happiest, though, might be the tenants of the three complexes. And it starts in their pocketbooks. The Salem Housing Authority, reported Ruth Liao in The Statesman Journal, estimates that the retrofit will save residents of Englewood East up to $250 a year in utility costs.

But that's not all they're happy about. Talk, for example, to Myreen Salzer, a resident at Englewood East whose apartment has just been renovated and retrofitted for the first time since the complex was built in 1980. "This just made it look three times brighter and bigger," she said. Or resident Frank Hodges who, said The Statesman Journal, "still was adjusting to the different water flow from his shower and sink but that liked the new vertical blinds and new countertops. He also looks forward to the installation of a new heating and AC unit."

And supporters of the Recovery Act said the grants were accomplishing exactly what the Act had been passed to do. The grants, said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, are "a great example of how we can get construction workers back to work today, while also keeping energy costs down in the future." Recovery Act "funding like this," added U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, "will save energy, save money and save our environment."


Content Archived: December 23, 2013