Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations…Finally!

Congress finished up appropriations for FY 2020 just before Christmas. The outcome for our programs was amazing. The Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) saw the largest increase since ARRA, with funding increasing from $257 million to $308.5 million, a 20% increase. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) also received an increase of $50 million, for total funding of $3.74 billion.

What does this mean for Ohio? HWAP funding will likely increase by $2.4 million over the $15.7 million provided in FY 2019, for a total of $18.1 million. HEAP Weatherization funding is a function of two factors, the roughly $1 million increase in funding to $153.9 million, and the new 25% transfer to weatherization, which means that roughly $36 million will be allocated to weatherization activities.

In the Reports on the bill funding HWAP, the managers indicated support for the concept of neighborhood weatherization, similar to the work HAP CAP, Scioto County, and COAD have done in Murray City, Nelsonville, and Portsmouth. Rep. Kaptur is pushing the concept, and her staff has indicated she would love to see a project in the area she represents. OPAE has started discussions with NeighborWorks and Pathway, our Toledo members, as well as FirstEnergy and Columbia Gas, on building a partnership to tackle a neighborhood in the Representative’s district.

House Appropriations Committee Report

The Committee believes that community-scale weatherization efforts could focus on individual homes or units as part of a broader, innovative “neighborhood” approach to weatherization. The Department is directed to provide to the Committee not later than 120 days of enactment of this Act a report that analyzes the feasibility of community-scale weatherization efforts. The report shall explore if states or subgrantees administering weatherization funds are currently weatherizing multiple homes as part of an integrated, community, or neighborhood approach.

The Report also set aside funding to investigate low cost methods of removing vermiculite-tainted insulation and other harmful substances. Both reports also urge continuation of the interaction between WAP and HUD’s Healthy Homes, Lead Hazard Control, and promotion of the weatherization of multifamily housing. The Senate also wants DOE to track window replacements, noting this reduces lead-based paint hazards. It is unclear how this language will ultimately affect program operations.

Thanks again to all of you who contacted your representatives and the Senate offices in support of the program. The work really paid off this year!