Over the past year, Prosperity Works has been helping low-income communities through their Energy Efficiency Work. This work funded by the Turner Foundation, and NM Zone Grant funders, and has allowed Prosperity Works to improve the lives and living conditions of low-income families in New Mexico.
While implementing home energy audits and energy efficiency measures in these low-income homes, Prosperity Works was able to conduct a survey about their needs. They found that all of these individuals own their homes, are families averaging two to five people, and 65% of those surveyed are living on $10,000 or less a year, and fully 85% have incomes of $25,000 or less. Most of these families have deferred medical needs, medicine and food to pay their utility bills.
The Prosperity Works Energy Work has been done in two phases, with the hopes of more in the future.
In the first phase, Prosperity Works partnered with PNM to create a model to get into hard to reach communities and households. They utilized PNM ambassadors and the Partnership for Community Action parent leaders staff to facilitate energy efficiency opportunities, with the idea of “community people engaging with community people.” Through this program, we were able to upgrade lighting, power strips, aerators, and weather stripping on windows and doors in 50 homes. Of those 50 homes, 35 also qualified to receive new refrigerators at no cost.
Phase Two of the Energy Work partners with Central New Mexico Housing. This second phase is focused on gas efficiency and safety in homes by upgrading hot water heaters, furnaces, and whole-house insulation. With the two-phase of upgrades, most homeowners anticipate a cost reduction on their utility bills of 50%, and also importantly, an improvement in the health, safety, and comfort of their home.
The next phase of this work will include 300 additional homes. Prosperity Works hopes to receive more funding to grow this model statewide. With many New Mexicans living at or below the poverty line, we must do all we can to ease their financial burden, and open new pathways for opportunities for them and their families.