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[thimk, nota bene: my 2 cent opinion]

Senate Bill 289 would allow middle-income Alaskans to get grants and loans to make their homes more energy efficient. The bill is sponsored by Senator Lyman Hoffman of Bethel.

This will certainly be of help to many homeowners and to landlords such as Sen. Hoffman. I’m not so sure it can be effective in existing rental housing if landlords aren’t interested in upgrading. Bethel has no minimum standards for housing safety, even though it collects taxes on rentals. Thus, even “new” housing -may never become more economic for tenants [moldy or lacks insulation or is packed with electrical heating tape because the rehabbed ASHA (Alaska State Housing Authority) buildings don’t have reality-based pipe systems (this is a cold region, folks, without standards for the flush-haul system of water delivery and sewage pick-up)]

True Voices left an interesting comment at an APRN.org story on the Alaska senate bill to give rebates to make middle-income homes “greener”.

I hope that this bill will also help in moving up or move away from the ever eroding river banks… very old wiring, old paper style plywoods, all windows cracked & drafty, etc. And can’t QUALIFY to fix or get a livable dwelling, still trying to be independent.

The comment is a succinct summary of what many face. If communities must be moved, the entire community is best moved together (the Davis Inlet to Natuashish incremental move had problems, especially for the older people, Remaining Innu of Davis Inlet feeling Abandoned). But TrueV points out what many individuals also face– imminent house collapse. The “home equity mortgage” bad loans do not work in many parts of the rural areas (housing may be expensive but it isn’t worth much as collateral). Older people in rural and frontier areas frequently don’t have excess/any retirement income. As in Bethel, there may not be any elder housing for 100s of miles (not even for assisted living or nursing homes). Weatherization and rehab funding often works best for situations outside of rural and remote places, with greater population density and civic resources.

The regulations written for emergency housing and relocation at the federal level (e.g., assistance from USDA Rural Development or Natural Resources Conservation Service) haven’t yet been translated into terms that allow rural areas to receive funding. For example, Homeland Security and Army Corps money might be applied if a highway collapse cuts off a town from its grocery stores. But we haven’t yet pointed out how collapsed stairways or river channel siltation also does the same thing, to the same proportion of people, even though the groceries are hunted. Electrical systems are critical homeland infrastructure– whether on a household or a city basis; the relative impact is the same. The applied funding and expertise isn’t. The long-term costs of not attending to adequate housing are so much more than the short-term expenses.

Thus, house by house a community melts into the river and initiates a constant family by family move into ever more crowded homes, ready themselves to collapse.

It may “take a village” to raise a child– a future citizen to assume statewide, national, and global responsibilities. But we don’t have genuine communities when older people must leave home or be trapped in substandard conditions.

How ever did the simple realization that a stitch in time saves nine become the regulatory: don’t call us if it’s less than a 500 million dollar or 500 thousand population crisis?


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