We started implementing the new project in 2020, and…well, we all know how 2020 went!
We planned to host in-person trainings on efficiency measures. Given the global pandemic, those didn’t happen. COVID’s supply chain impacts meant that appliances and some weatherization materials were scarce. In addition, for a significant part of the implementation period, it was not possible to go into people’s homes to do the actual weatherization installation work. The project therefore shifted to what could be distributed safely and with social distancing.
We were able to have several in-person outreach events that were very successful, but in many parks we had to shift gears and provide $300 debit cards to participating park managers or resident leaders, and then coordinate with them to distribute conservation kits, written materials (including Energy Assistance applications), and educational videos. This was done outdoors (and socially distanced), either at a community event or during the Friday of the month when residents went to the manager’s office to pay their rent. Because of local partnerships, additional opportunities were often uncovered, such as a fire department with free heat tape materials, a church providing food, or a nonprofit giving out books and even laptops at events. A particularly fun and effective event in Willmar included ice cream—popular with the kids!
Beyond the community events, follow-up included going door to door with the conservation kits and educational materials. This was done by paid staff, volunteers, or in some cases CERTs, utility, or non-profit staff who wanted to ensure that the outreach had been completed.