Sunday, November 2, 2008

Taking action...

I decided to post the letter I wrote to my alderman regarding the Energy$avers grant money running out...if you're an HCBA member and feel as though this crystallizes your thoughts, you're more than welcome to "steal" it, change the info and send it to your alderman as well. It's a bit informal, yes, but I'm not "defiant" about this. I understand they run out of money now and again, I'm just hoping that he'll push for more funding next year, to prevent this. I back-dated the post to Nov. 2 as well, to help differentiate it in case anyone is searching for info on it, somehow.

Dear Alderman XXXXXX,
My wife and I recently (well, 1.5 years ago) moved into our bungalow just a few blocks from your offices, actually, and were really excited about getting our bungalow registered with the HCBA (Historic Chicago Bungalow Association) and the pride that went along with it, as well as, of course, the grants and whatnot.
This year, the HCBA launched an Energy$avers Grant program that tied their previous multiple grants together into one easy-to-use, very generous but very necessary program. It made it very easy for HCBA members to be reimbursed for energy-efficient home improvements, up to $6,000.
I'm not one to complain about free money, mind you. I very much appreciate the program. It's a WONDERFUL program, and it's great that the program helps those of us who are not "disadvantaged" as well as those who really need it, financially. Many programs don't do that, and it's nice that this appears founded on the idea of conservation/environment rather than class and status.
My wife and I had our first child earlier this year, and with winter approaching, we were concerned about a lack of insulation in our 8-month-old's bedroom upstairs. Insulation projects qualify for the Energy$avers grant. So I was excited that I would be able to do this home improvement, for all the reasons you can imagine, as a homeowner yourself, I'm sure.
When I contacted the HCBA, however, they told me that because of demand, the grant's funding had completely run out. I was shocked, and I'm quite a bit perturbed about it. Although my wife and I hold stable jobs and have steady incomes, we probably could not afford to properly insulate our home without the help of the Energy$avers grant. I'm sure there are folks who are in much more "dire straits" than we are in this realm. I've attached the letter they've sent out to people applying for the grant and I've also pasted in my correspondence with the very helpful XXXXXXX at the HCBA, below, for context if you need it.
I'm not writing to complain. I'm not writing to bash the HCBA or the city. In fact, quite the contrary. The HCBA has been marvelous, fantastic and great, and is a great, great resource for those of us who own bungalows in the city. I'm also not writing you to say that my wife and I deserve anything more than others (because, truthfully, there are people probably in more need than we are) or that we need someone to go to bat for us. Not at all.
I am asking, however, that you to do everything in your power to persuade your fellow council members and/or the mayor that this program needs additional funding, either emergency funding this year (apparently, HCBA has a backlog of people who applied for the grant already and have to WAIT for approval -- which is required for the projects they want funded -- to be eligible for the grant money), or simply more funding next year in response to this year's "run on funds."
I know that the city has been all over the news for deficits, layoffs, funding, etc. I know there probably isn't much money out there. However, at the very least, I hope that when budgeting rolls around in 2009, the bungalow owners of the XXXXX Ward (which are many, given the Bungalow Belt's swath through the ward) can count on you to make our case for additional funding. Energy efficiency helps not only homeowners, but also the utilities, the municipalities and the communities, when adopted across many households. This might be only a drop in the bucket, but for this city, which hasn't been top-of-the-line on recycling/conservation like many others, this would be a good "show of force" to convince some people to minimize their energy use.
I appreciate your time and what you do to keep our neighborhood clean, safe, friendly and a nice place to live. I grew up on the Southwest Side, in a neighborhood that was once like this, until gangs took over. That neighborhood hasn't recovered since, and it's unfortunate. I hope to be able to do my part as an adult to help keep Portage Park and the XXXX Ward as good as it is, for my family and those around me.
Thank you for reading this email, and all the best to you...

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