BOSTON, Mass. /Massachusetts Newswire/ — As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state’s economic future, Governor Deval Patrick today announced an award of $4.49 million in federal weatherization recovery funds to communities across the Commonwealth. These funds will be used to replace old, inefficient heating systems with new state-of-the-art units for 7 local housing authorities throughout the state, along with new energy efficient windows at a family public housing development in Nahant. When completed, these fuel efficiency upgrades will mean lower energy costs and an improved living environment for tenants of developments in the Everett, Millbury, Nahant, Northampton, Natick, Peabody, and West Springfield housing authorities as well as a senior development in Westborough.

The Governor, joined by local elected officials, made the announcement at the Whittier Drive Community Center in Everett, a recipient of funding under today’s award. In total, the Everett Housing Authority (EHA) will receive $2,060,470 in federal stimulus funds to replace out-dated heating systems at its Russell Street and Duncan Road family developments.

“This investment will help us to strengthen communities, save money and put people back to work. Most importantly, it will allow us to improve the quality of life for residents across the Commonwealth by giving them a cleaner and healthier environment,” said Governor Patrick.

“These funds will support our administration’s efforts to improve public housing facilities so we can continue to transition low-income individuals and families into quality, affordable, and permanent housing options,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Chair of the state’s Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness.

Today’s announcement is part of $25 million set aside for public housing energy upgrades out of $122 million in stimulus funds allotted to Massachusetts last fall for weatherization services to low-income homes. Those American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds come to the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program and are administered for DHCD by a statewide network of local non-profit agencies. Prior to today’s announcement, DHCD had awarded nearly $10 million in stimulus funds for energy upgrades to 20 public housing authorities across the Commonwealth.

DOE program requirements call for the $25 million in public housing funds to be used for weatherization of housing where tenants pay for their own heat and earn under 60% of area median income. The balance of program funds will provide eligible private households with full-scale home energy conservation services. In total, it is estimated that the entire $122 million will be used to weatherize an estimated 17,000 homes over the next two years.

Weatherization improvements can include air sealing and weather stripping; repairs or replacement of expired heating systems; attic, wall and floor insulation; and storm or replacement windows.

Today’s awards are:

Housing Authority Award, Amount and Location

•Everett: $2,060,470; Russell Street & Duncan Road
•Millbury: $156,030; Memorial Drive/West Main/Rivilin Street
•Nahant: $66,715: Family Housing Development (Window replacement)
•Northampton: $492,900; Hampshire Heights
•Natick: $515,160; Forest Green and scattered site housing
•Peabody: $454,075; Veteran’s Memorial Drive/ Goldberg Road
•Westborough: $88,065; Cedar Estates
•West Springfield: $660,730; Birch Park Circle
“Many of our public housing developments in Massachusetts are more than 50 years old and are in dire need of heating system and other energy efficiency upgrades,” said DHCD Undersecretary Tina Brooks. “This latest allocation of recovery funds will help us to further improve the condition of public housing in Massachusetts.”

“Making homes more energy efficient today means lower heating bills for years to come. This investment will help those hit hardest by the sluggish economy while improving public housing and creating jobs,” said Senator John Kerry.

“These vital Recovery Act funds will not only enhance the lives of public housing residents, they will also help reduce energy costs and create clean energy jobs,” said Congressman Edward Markey. “I am very pleased that these funds will help energy efficiency and other clean energy projects cross the finish line, ensuring that Massachusetts will remain at the forefront of the clean energy revolution, as we work to grow our economy and shrink our energy bills.”

“These weatherization grants will enable working families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The energy conservation resulting from these public housing energy upgrades will help the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, decrease the cost of energy for families in need, while creating sustainable jobs and improving the quality of our environment,” said Senator Marc Pacheco, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Federal Stimulus Oversight.

“The district that I represent along with many other districts around the state will be receiving these funds when the public housing authorities need it most. This funding will allow for the conservation of energy while lowering the cost of utility bills for families hit hardest by the recession,” said Representative David P. Linsky, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Federal Stimulus Oversight.

“This project will bring jobs and money to Everett, as well as improving housing in our city. I wish to thank the Governor and his staff for considering Everett for this project,” said Representative Stephen Stat Smith.

“I’m thrilled and thankful for Governor Patrick’s visit to Everett and his Administration’s commitment to the families living in our housing facilities. I personally know many of the residents living in our complexes and knowing their homes will have safe, energy efficient heating eases a lot of my concerns during the winter months. I appreciate the efforts of the Department of Housing and Community Development as well as our own Everett Housing Authority in recognizing and acting on our needs,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr.

Housing and economic development investments are critical components of Governor Patrick’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:

•Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
•Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
•Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.