March 22, 2022 – Annapolis, MD – The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is pleased to have worked in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the National Housing Trust (NHT) and our many other Maryland partners to help design and support HB108 and SB524, the Public Utilities Energy Efficiency Conservation Programs-Energy Performance Targets and Low-Income Housing Bills, that have passed their respective chambers in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Senate in Annapolis. Following the anticipated signing of the Bill by the Governor, this legislation will deliver healthier housing and significant energy cost savings to the state’s most cost-burdened households. GHHI is grateful for our many capable partners and legislative leaders who advanced this substantial policy change.
Through the wonderful leadership of the Bill Sponsors, Delegate Lorig Charkoudian and Senator Brian Feldman, the state will be required to specifically provide energy-efficiency upgrades that will reduce energy consumption and costs for the hundreds of thousands of low-income residents where an unfairly large share of the energy-cost burden falls but who do not receive their proportionate share of weatherization services.
“The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative commends the leadership of Delegate Lorig Charkoudian and Senator Brian Feldman for the successful passage of House Bill 108 and Senate Bill 524. Passage of this historic legislation not only creates a national model but more importantly puts Maryland one step closer to making tangible progress on energy equity and setting forth a plan to protect our climate and the health and well-being of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.” stated GHHI President and CEO, Ruth Ann Norton. “This legislation will ensure that critical weatherization investments are made in housing in the state’s most under-resourced communities which will create more stable, affordable and healthier homes.”
The legislation will foster greater integration of state housing, healthy homes and weatherization resources to produce holistic housing interventions that meet the needs of low income, distressed housing. A Green and Healthy Task Force will be created, comprised of state agencies and other stakeholders, to assess and make recommendations on how to eliminate barriers to low income residents accessing state weatherization resources and receiving comprehensive housing intervention services that address not only energy loss but also home-based environmental health hazards and housing defects.
“I am grateful for the work of GHHI, NRDC, NHT, and all those who have worked for years to ensure equity in our energy efficiency investments. We have an incredible opportunity to fight climate change while improving housing quality, indoor air quality, and health and lower energy bills.” stated Delegate Lorig Charkoudian. “This legislation will ensure we maximize investments, leverage all available resources, and hold our state agencies accountable to accomplish all of those goals.”
“I am pleased to be the Senate sponsor for this important legislation that moves Maryland closer to energy equity while supporting climate change initiatives by improving energy efficiency for limited-income individuals.” stated Senator Brian Feldman.
Energy efficiency interventions provide not only energy benefits related to reductions in energy usage, costs and climate impact, but produce many non-energy benefits as well. By increasing the expenditure of the rate payer funded Maryland EmPOWER program funds in low income homes, more families and seniors in need will also receive non-energy benefits such as improved health outcomes, increased financial and housing stability, and other socio-economic benefits that are derived from weatherization and energy efficiency improvements.
“This desperately needed legislation will ensure that the Marylanders who live in the most dangerous conditions and pay the highest percentage of their income on energy bills, will no longer be left behind.” stated Deron Lovaas, Senior Policy Advisor, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council): “This first in the nation legislation will ensure that everyone has access to the many benefits of energy efficiency, lowering energy bills for the most vulnerable while creating safer homes.”
“This legislation could have significantly reduced the health disparities my family and I endured growing up. Most see affordable housing as just four walls and a roof, but it is so much more. This legislation gives those most in need a chance to live in their homes with dignity.” said Raymond Nevo, State & Equity Policy Manager at the National Housing Trust (NHT).
Background: Beginning in 2008, the EmPOWER Maryland program required investments in efficiency upgrades for businesses and homes across Maryland, but the program benefits of lower energy costs and improved safety have predominately applied to upper- and middle-class residents. The policy failed to provide adequate funding for Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which manages the energy efficiency programs for low-income residents.
HB108 and SB524 will require the state to provide funding to achieve 1% annual energy savings for low-income households by 2026. This funding will lower energy bills for 32,000 low-income households each year and lower energy bills for all 450,000 low-income Marylanders – in 13 years. At the current funding rate, it would have taken 130 years to reach all these households.
Nationally, low-income households spend 8 cents of every dollar on energy costs. But in Maryland, low-income households spend 13 cents of every dollar on energy costs – and in some cases, it can be as high as 42 cents.
About Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI)
GHHI is dedicated to addressing the social determinants of health and the advancement of racial and health equity through the creation of healthy, safe, and energy efficient homes. By delivering a standard of excellence in its work, GHHI aims to eradicate the negative health impacts of unhealthy housing and unjust policies for children, seniors, and families to ensure better health, economic, and social outcomes for low-income communities of color. As the nation’s leading healthy housing organization, GHHI provides evidence-based direct services, policy support and technical assistance to partners across the country on innovative financing and integrated health, housing and energy models. Visit us at www.ghhi.org and follow us on Twitter @HealthyHousing
About NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)
NRDC is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC
About National Housing Trust
National Housing Trust creates and preserves affordable homes to provide opportunity, advance racial equity, reduce economic disparities, and strengthen community resilience through practice and policy. Visit us at www.nhtinc.org and follow us on Twitter @NatlHsingTrust