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New Montgomery Co. project uses stimulus dollars to create jobs, housing

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Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Secretary Raymond A. Skinner announced the beginning of the renovation of a 21-unit apartment building in Takoma Park, a project financed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Gilbert Highlands redevelopment is the first project in the state to receive a grant under DHCD's Multifamily Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability (MEEHA) program, which aims to promote energy efficiency in affordable multifamily rental housing.

"Maryland is a national leader in its efficient and effective management of Recovery funds in these difficult economic times, expanding opportunity and creating jobs in our State," says Gov. Martin O'Malley. "We will continue to utilize those resources to provide affordable housing for Maryland's hardworking families and generate jobs in the construction and housing sectors."

The Gilbert Highlands building, located on the 8500 block of Flower Avenue, will provide desirable, energy efficient, affordable housing for low to moderate income families while generating more than two dozen construction jobs.

"The redevelopment of this important affordable housing resource has long been a priority of the Town of Takoma Park and we are pleased that our financing will help preserve and expand critically needed affordable housing in that community," says Secretary Skinner.

Increasing energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways that owners of affordable rental housing can ensure the sustainability of the development, and these investments act as an incentive to performing regular building maintenance.

MEEHA provides grants for energy audits and the purchase and installation of equipment and materials for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in affordable multifamily rental housing. The program is an ongoing partnership between the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Energy Administration and is part of the governor's emPOWER Maryland initiative, which aims to reduce the state's energy consumption by 15 percent by 2015.

MEEHA funding comes in the form of a $9.5 million contribution from MEA, funded by both the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 State Energy Program, and the State's Strategic Energy Investment Fund.

The MEEHA program is Maryland's multifamily counterpart to the Weatherization Assistance Program, which currently funds energy retrofits for eligible low-income households. These two programs help Maryland families reduce energy costs and consumption at a time of increasing financial stress and rising energy costs.

MEEHA is being undertaken in conjunction with DHCD's Green Grant Rental Housing Preservation Program, which provides additional funding for energy audits of affordable multifamily rental housing developments in certain communities affected by the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. It also provides funding for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) training and accreditation.

News updates also are available by following DHCD on Twitter and Facebook.

Source: Montgomery County Development Corporation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

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