Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative has been active in The Triangle neighborhood of North Winton Village, working to improve property conditions, neighborhood image, and resident engagement. Part of the work of Healthy Blocks has been focused on making the neighborhood greener through various projects: tree plantings, clean sweeps, free home energy assessments through Green Jobs/Green New York, connecting residents with loans and grants for energy improvements through New York State’s EMPOWER and Assisted Home Performance programs, and more! Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester has helped neighbors invest more than $63,000 in environmentally-friendly energy improvements in the Triangle neighborhood alone. NeighborWorks® Rochester has also shown a commitment to bringing renewable energy to the City of Rochester and Monroe County. Our organization partnered with ROCSPOT on its last two Solarize the Flower City campaigns, which held public solar orientations and helped hundreds of Rochesterians sign up for free solar audits.
During this time, NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to partner with the Rochester Area Community Foundation, NeighborWorks® America, and GRID Alternatives to fund and implement 5 free rooftop solar installations to low-to-moderate-income families in the City of Rochester. This pilot program, the first of its kind in the City of Rochester, also includes a workforce development portion, where students in community college solar programs can participate in the installation of the panels and earn a certificate that indicates real job experience to potential employers. Using this model, the first two installations were completed on City homes in November of 2015.
At the close of 2016, NeighborWorks® Rochester celebrated the third installation—on a home in its very own Healthy Blocks neighborhood! Julie and Pat Boswell—pictured with baby Carey and pup Ava—received their 10 solar panels on December 21st from installers they describe as efficient and professional. The panels, which have a lifespan of 20 years, will save the Boswells $40/month in utility bills. Combined with the energy-efficiency improvements they received through the EMPOWER program, their monthly bill will be significantly lowered, helping both the environment and their bottom line. “I never thought this could happen,” says Julie. “I never would have thought this was an option if NeighborWorks® hadn’t reached out to us.”
GRID Alternatives is in the process of identifying and scheduling the final two low-mod solar installations, which are slated to be completed by spring of this year.