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MEA helps Homes for America lower energy bills for low-income renters

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Homes for America, a housing nonprofit, received a $295,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant reduced the costs of massive energy efficiency upgrades to the organization’s Concord Apartments, saving residents hundreds of dollars on electricity bills each year.

“We believe very much in making our properties as green and energy efficient as possible,” said Nancy Rase, President and Director of Homes for America.

Though it focuses on renovating existing multi-family housing, Homes for America also builds new housing for low-income Marylanders and renovates owner-occupied homes. In addition, Concord Apartments in Perryville acts as a moderate rehabilitation center, offering affordable and comfortable housing as well as computer access, financial assistance, and employment training.

Through MEA’s Multi-Family Energy Efficiency Housing and Affordability (MEEHA) program, Rase worked closely with MEA program manager John Adelsberger. “The energy improvements should save Concord about 15 percent on its electric consumption every year,” said Adelsberger, “for a total annual savings of about $42,000.” As of Aug. 2010, MEEHA is committed to spending nearly $9 million on efficiency upgrades for more than 5,000 multi-family dwellings across Maryland.

MEA funding provided efficient lighting upgrades and heat pump systems for each of Concord’s 118 units. The grant covered more than a third of the total project cost, which also included kitchen upgrades using new ENERGY STAR appliances, insulation, and windows.

“Upfront costs make improving energy efficiency historically prohibitive,” said Rase. “The budget is tight. This program allowed us to upgrade. Without the MEA we wouldn’t be able to do that.”

“It’s a real benefit for everyone,” said Rase. “Especially with this summer [heat],” she added. “It’s pretty amazing that the utilities have [cost] less than any month ever.”

Homes for America owns dozens of properties, which range from 30 to 200 units each. The organization has also implemented energy efficiency and clean energy projects in Elkton, Baltimore, and on the Eastern Shore, and will continue to take advantage of programs and tax credits available through the MEA.