Support owner-occupation as a way to enfranchise the population.

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The ARRA provided $4.3 billion in tax credit incentives to homeowners, not available to renters,  for home energy efficiency improvements in 2009 and 2010.  Homeowners could receive 30 percent of the cost of various energy-efficiency-related projects up to $1,500.  

In addition to this tax credit, the ARRA allotted $5 billion to the Federal Weatherization Assistance program  (see Federal Weatherization Program

Energy Hog

The adult education component of the Energy Hog website gears each of its energy-saving recommendations to home improvements, ranging from turning off unused appliances and electronics to purchasing new appliances to weatherization and insulation. While the ultimate incentive is reducing one’s energy bill whether renting or owning, most of the more effective actions on the website’s “Energy Checklist” are large-scale system improvements, therefore executable by homeowners.  Additionally, one of the cited reasons for wanting to invest in efficiency improvements listed is the potential to increase the home’s resale value.  While many of the tax credits available and promoted through the Energy Hog program are offered to renters, many of the credited improvements typically fall under the responsibility of a landlord.

Federal Weatherization Program

Vice President Biden tours a New Hampshire home undergoing weatherization with ARRA support.  www.whitehouse.gov

The Federal Weatherization Assistance program aids lower-income households to improve their energy efficiency and there lower energy costs.  The cost burden of energy consumption is reduced through weatherization techniques rather than through addressing the amount of energy consumed via lifestyle choices.  While the energy costs to these households have been reduced through the program, it does not address the energy consumption by those with incomes too high to qualify.

The Federal Weatherization Assistance program assists both single-family and multi-family dwellings, owners and renters.  Eligibility is open to all households making at most 60 percent of the state median income, regardless of whether they rent or own.

Tom Friedman

"The more we make tax incentives available for retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient and to encourage the use of solar technologies, the more we strengthen the ability of poor people to stay in their homes and secure their neighborhoods….For a lot of underprivileged people, greening their homes may be the only way to keep them in their homes, as fuel prices continue to soar. Those homeowners are the most stable pillars of any neighborhood." Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 394

Commentary

Vishaan Chakrabarti

“You can build all the zero-carbon houses you want, but if everyone has to drive everywhere, I think that just kills the program. That's just people feeling good about themselves, people living in green, 4,000-square-foot, single-family homes.” Underdome Interview

Chakrabarti describes suburbs developments as inherently wasteful because they are dependence on the automobile, and economically vulnerable.   McMansion developments, he warns, “could... look like the equivalent of blighted urban neighborhoods that we saw in the ‘70s.” Underdome Interview

“When you're in government, especially municipal government, you understand that it's all about tax base. Everything is about tax base. When a tax base deteriorates, there's just nothing you can do. There's no amount of affordable housing you can build. There's no amount of jobs programs you can enact. 

The problem that you have in exurban locations is that the tax base is incredibly homogenous. If you look at exurban Phoenix or exurban Las Vegas, what was the economy? The economy was the development. People are moving there, so you had home builders. And people moved in, so you needed a Home Depot because people were going do their own DIY projects. And then you need a Chili’s next to the Home Depot, and someone has to hire a waitress and a bus boy. That is the economy. And so when the real estate market collapsed in those places, it took the entire economy with it. Which is why you got a foreclosure rate in exurban Phoenix or exurban Las Vegas that's way beyond the foreclosure rate of most of the country. … 
 
I think New Yorkers who don't travel the rest of the country have no idea how desperate a situation it is in the rest of the country. These places are decimated. There's nothing. So that, to me, is again a byproduct of lifestyle. It's a byproduct of the lack of density.” Underdome Interview
 

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