Nonprofit Uses Funds to “Green” Affordable Housing Properties
Austin, TX — Foundation Communities today announced it has received a $50,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. With high prices on local apartment complexes hindering Foundation Communities’ ability to acquire new development projects, the funds will be focused on “greening” existing properties.
Specifically, Foundation Communities will use the grant to fund environmental initiatives that benefit low-income Austinites, including the hiring of an environmental intern whose work focuses on environmental audits and improvements of the organization’s apartment communities. This is the first grant Foundation Communities has received for green initiatives, and will allow the organization to enact sweeping changes in operations.
"We are pleased to support Foundation Communities’ efforts to make sustainable upgrades to its housing portfolio,” said Kenny Wilson, Central and South Texas market president for Bank of America. “Greening is an effective way to improve communities, the environment, and families' bottom lines. Bank of America is active in green-building, financing green construction, and lending for residential energy-efficient improvements as part of our landmark $20 billion environmental initiative. This grant is one more way Bank of America works with its nonprofit partners to save natural resources."
Staff spent this summer performing energy- and water-usage audits of 11 Austin apartment communities and three North Texas properties. Sustainability Project Manager Sunshine Mathon explains that staff is studying “how do we mitigate, or even reverse, the dramatic trend of rising utility bills for our residents who live on limited, and sometimes fixed, incomes?”
As owner of 14 real estate properties, Foundation Communities spent more than $750,000 in 2007 on water and energy costs while residents spent more than $4 million for their water and energy bills. Despite taking full advantage of Austin Energy's nationally-recognized efficiency programs, including solar electric incentives, these costs are increasing an average of 10 percent per year. Finding ways to reduce the energy- and water-usage is crucial for the economic viability of low-income residents. Of course, lowering energy and water usage will also reduce the organization’s contribution to carbon emissions and global warming — a good example of how environmental and economic sustainability are directly interrelated.
“If we can save a struggling family money on their rent, that is good, but if we can help them save on their electric and water bill as well, that is even better. And through Bank of America’s generosity, we can begin to do just that,” says Walter Moreau, executive director of Foundation Communities.
About Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy
Building on a long-standing tradition of investing in the communities it serves, Bank of America will embark in 2009 on a new, ten-year goal to donate $2 billion to nonprofit organizations engaged in improving the health and vitality of their neighborhoods. Funded by Bank of America, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation gave more than $200 million in 2007, making the bank the most generous financial institution in the world and the second largest donor of all U.S. corporations in cash contributions. Bank of America approaches giving through a national strategy called "neighborhood excellence" under which it works with local leaders to identify and meet the most pressing needs of individual communities. Through Team Bank of America, bank associate volunteers contributed more than 650,000 hours in 2007 to enhance the quality of life in their communities nationwide. For more information about Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy, please visit www.bankofamerica.com/foundation.
About Foundation Communities
Foundation Communities is a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization that creates high-quality affordable housing and empowers more than 2,000 families and individuals with low incomes through programs that educate, support and improve financial standing. Founded in 1989, Foundation Communities creates housing where families succeed. Foundation Communities is a member agency of United Way Capital Area and a charter member of NeighborWorks America. To learn more, visit www.foundcom.org.