AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has announced a major award to a local nonprofit designed to generate a wide array of jobs that will help jump start the state’s construction industry, while increasing home energy efficiency for low income households, reducing their cost burden and creating a healthier environment.

TDHCA has awarded $6 million in federal stimulus funding to Community Services Inc. to weatherize the homes of low-income residents living in Anderson, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Henderson, Hood, Hunt, Kaufman, Johnson, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Smith and Van Zandt counties.

The award is part of a $288 million award made by the department to 66 cities, counties and eligible nonprofit organizations across the state to weatherize the homes of an estimated 40,000 low-income Texans. The awards were made through the Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program and were provided on a one-time basis to the state through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The allocation represents a significant portion of $326.9 million allocated to the state, the balance of which TDHCA will award in 2010. The Recovery Act provided about $314 million more in funds than what TDHCA typically administers each year for weatherization activities.

By comparison, the department annually weatherizes about 3,700 homes using funding levels of about $13 million. However, all WAP funds associated with the stimulus package must be expended by Sept. 30, 2010.

“The state has been given an extraordinary opportunity to make an enormous difference in the everyday lives of North Central Texas residents,” said Michael Gerber, TDHCA executive director, “actions that will lower their energy consumption, create healthier surroundings, and reduce the state’s overall demand for energy. At the same time, these funds will create construction jobs and produce fees and taxes for local economies.

“We are moving quickly to take advantage of this opportunity, but we also pledge to ensure these funds are administered in a responsible, accountable manner at the state and local levels,” he said.

WAP is designed to help low-income customers control their energy costs through the installation of weatherization materials and consumer education. Income-eligible households spend 12.2 percent of their income on home energy costs, compared to an average of 3.7 percent. Households assisted through WAP typically save more than $400 on utility costs each year and savings can be enjoyed for as long as 15 to 20 years. For more information about weatherization efforts eligible under the act or to learn more about WAP in general, visit the section’s Web site at www.tdhca.state.tx.us/ea/wap.htm. To contact the nearest contract service provider, use a land-based phone and call 888-606-8889; callers will automatically be routed to the WAP provider serving their county.

Cell phones will not make this automatic connection.