October 23, 2014

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin Announces $500,000 Grant to Green & Healthy Homes Initiative to Keep Rhode Island Families Healthy, Safe & Warm

Grant provides energy efficiency and indoor air quality intervention for at least 135 low-income Rhode Island families

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin joined the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) today at a press conference to announce a $500,000 grant from the Attorney General’s office to help address energy efficiency, weatherization and indoor air quality issues in the homes of low income families across Rhode Island. This grant will attract and leverage additional private and public sources of funding to address health and safety hazards present in those same homes. GHHI will also provide job development opportunities in Rhode Island’s most distressed neighborhoods, recruiting and training residents to make whole-home assessments and rehabilitations.

“Too many low income families in Rhode Island are living in substandard homes that completely lack energy efficiency, which drives up the utility costs, often leaving families with having to choose between heat and other essentials, like food and warm clothes,” said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. “No family should ever have to choose between heat or putting food on the table. This grant will allow GHHI to support families and improve Rhode Island’s aging housing stock.”

This is the second grant awarded to GHHI Rhode Island from Attorney General Kilmartin. The first grant of $54,000 was awarded in September 2014 to help launch and support the Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes, a coalition of more than 80 organizations to coordinate the professional healthy housing community to effectively align, braid and coordinate information, resources and services to improve the health, safety and energy efficiency of all Rhode Island homes, with GHHI Rhode Island providing day-to-day management.

“Improving energy efficiency creates healthier homes that help stabilize families by improving comfort and quality of life, and by lowering monthly energy and home maintenance costs,” said GHHI President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton. “Nationwide, low income families can spend up to 20 percent of their income on energy, compared with only 4 percent for average households. We need to close that gap, and we are grateful for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s support for the families of Rhode Island.”

Rhode Island’s urban housing stock is aged and deteriorated, and the State’s notoriously cold climate makes the increased energy efficiency and weatherization of low incomes homes an economic necessity. Publicly funded energy efficiency and weatherization assistance programs are hampered in their ability to most effectively assist low-income homeowners, because the houses at issue have unaddressed structural, health and safety needs that fall outside of program mandates, but must be addressed before energy efficiency and weatherization can take place.

GHHI aligns existing programs from federal and local agencies, braids funding sources and coordinates service delivery through a network of partnerships. This approach to housing rehabilitation drives public and private sector collaboration, streamlines service delivery and integrates energy and healthy housing interventions, resulting in more thorough and efficient housing interventions.

This grant will allow GHHI to address energy efficiency, weatherization and indoor air quality issues including energy audits, renovations, repairs and upgrades. Work may include boiler repair or replacements; installation of insulation in the walls, attic and basement; caulking and weatherstripping; replacing doors and windows; repair ducts, chimneys and vents; and the replacement of light bulbs and plumbing mechanisms with energy efficient and water saving products.

"These funds will allow us to leverage the great work our partners are doing to ensure RI families are living in healthy homes,” said GHHI Rhode Island Outcome Broker Corrie Haley. “Collaboration across the state has been key to creating measurable impact for these families."

These grants are made possible from settlement funds from a 2007 court order resulting from a lawsuit brought by Rhode Island Attorney General's Office, other states and the federal government against American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEP).

About the AEP lawsuit
The lawsuit alleged AEP constructed and modified numerous power plants in the Ohio River Valley without the permits required under the Clean Air Act, causing increased smog in Rhode Island and other states. Under the court order, recently reopened and increased, AEP paid a $15 million penalty and committed $65 million to perform or finance pro-environmental projects, of which approximately $30 million was distributed to eight states to fund pollution reduction, renewable energy, green building and other environmental projects. Rhode Island's portion of the settlement was approximately $2 million, with an additional $714,000 through a 2013 settlement.

In previous years, the Attorney General has leveraged these court-ordered monies to reduce state energy costs and harmful air pollution through the installation of wind turbines at Fishermen's Memorial State Campground and East Matunuck State Beach, the installation of a two-acre, 300 kilowatt solar roof field at RIPTA's Transportation Building located on Melrose Street in Providence, as well as providing for upgraded air emissions devices on state-owned heavy equipment.

About Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is dedicated to breaking the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy children. Formerly the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, GHHI replaces stand-alone housing intervention programs with an integrated, whole-house approach that produces sustainable green, healthy and safe homes. As a result, we are improving health, economic and social outcomes for families across the country.

With support from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Energy (DOE), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Council on Foundations, and numerous philanthropic partners, GHHI serves as the national model for green and healthy homes interventions, and has produced more than 5,000 GHHI housing units nationwide. GHHI continues to increase its impact across 17 sites: Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Dubuque, Flint, Lansing, Lewiston Auburn, Jackson, New Haven, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Salt Lake and San Antonio. Learn more at www.ghhi.org or follow us @HealthyHousing.

About the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office
The Attorney General is the top legal official in Rhode Island. As the state's top prosecutor, the Attorney General fights to enhance the economic security of Rhode Island, protect the public safety of our communities and restore the public trust in state government by fighting corruption. As the central legal agency of the state, the Office of Attorney General is responsible for prosecution of all felony criminal cases and misdemeanor appeals, as well as prosecution of misdemeanor cases brought by state law enforcement agencies. Additionally, as chief legal officer of the state, the Attorney General represents all agencies, departments and commissions in litigation and initiates legal action where necessary to protect the interests of Rhode Island citizens. The Office of Attorney General is also charged with operating and maintaining the Bureau of Criminal Identification, which is the central repository for all criminal records in the state. For more information on the Office of Attorney General, please visit www.riag.ri.gov.

media inquiries

For more information about the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative or to arrange an interview with our President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton, members of the media should contact:

ghhi@berlinrosen.com