ND lawmakers should revisit funding for weatherization program
In September, a ND legislative committee voted to refuse $19 million in federal and state funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program in North Dakota.
A recent news story noted the extreme temperatures we experience in an average North Dakota year. It is not uncommon for us to see a temperature range of 140 degrees from the hottest day of summer to the coldest day of winter.
These conditions can be difficult to deal with, especially if you live in an older home with inadequate protection against weather extremes — such as old windows, minimal insulation, or a furnace you can't count on.
So, it left me scratching my head when, just this last September, a North Dakota legislative committee voted to refuse $19 million in federal and state funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program in North Dakota.
As the director of a regional Community Action Agency, I have worked with the weatherization program for over 40 years, and I can tell you it is one of the most effective programs in the country.
Through this program we have weatherized over 28,000 homes in North Dakota since 1976, the year the program became operational, with the typical family saving over $370 in energy costs per year after their home has been weatherized. Weatherization prolongs the lifespan of existing housing stock and allows homes to remain affordable.
But the benefits of the program don't end there. Weatherization also means jobs. From weatherization staff to local contractors and vendors, economic benefits from weatherization ripple across the entire state. Improved housing conditions also reduce physical and mental health problems for families while freeing up dollars that can be used for prescriptions.
Clearly, funding the weatherization program is an investment in North Dakota's housing, economy, and its people. I encourage our elected officials to consider the many benefits of this program and support the $19 million in funding that was rejected this past September.