COLUMNS

MORPC Matters: Weatherization sustains affordable housing

Robert Williams
Guest columnist

When people think of home weatherization, the general consensus is that it is a measure that helps save families money on their energy bills.

In fact, most families who receive weatherization services are below poverty-guideline levels based on their income.

Robert Williams

Weatherization services from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission provide the ability for families to save more than $400 annually with such measures as proper insulation, repaired or replaced furnaces, hot-water-tank replacement and weather stripping. Our services also provide homes with health-and-safety measures – and overall increased comfort in weatherized homes.

Although saving money in the here and now is great for residents, the contributions of weatherization programs to sustainable, affordable housing often are overlooked.

Central Ohio has an alarming shortage of affordable-housing units, and this number will only continue to increase as the population of the region increases.

Many believe the solution to the housing shortage is to build more affordable-housing units. Although this is a key component of the solution, the ability to maintain affordable-housing units often is overlooked as a substantial portion of the equation to solve the affordable-housing problem.

The negative impact of homes that do not receive weatherization might not be noticed immediately, but they are evident over the course of time. Often when families do not have the financial ability or stability to pay for weatherization on their homes, it can start a downward spiral that leads to housing instability.

Energy costs might be too high for families to afford. In certain instances, a household might have heating costs – particularly in the winter months – higher than rent or mortgage-loan payments because of poor insulation.

Poor insulation, broken furnaces and other health-and-safety measures that can be remedied by weatherization services often prematurely force families to move from their affordable-housing units. This means an affordable unit has come offline while the family is forced to find another – compounding the problem of limited, affordable-housing options.

Home weatherization plays an integral role in helping to maintain affordable, sustainable housing and reducing the need for more units.

Keeping affordable-housing units in use stabilizes low-income and at-risk families in safe and decent housing, all while maintaining reasonable housing expenses.

More central Ohio residents should take advantage of this impactful resource of weatherization and thereby contribute to affordable-housing sustainability. 

Robert Williams is director of residential services at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. MORPC's purpose is to bring communities of all sizes and interests together to collaborate on best practices and plan for the future of the region.