Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weatherization Program

As long time readers know, Mr. FtK owned his own business designing, renovating and building homes for about 11 years. When the housing market crashed, we closed shop. He worked for a landscaping company for about a year and a half, but he was just recently laid off from that job because of lack of work. So, for the past couple months he's been out looking for jobs again. He has a degree in architecture, but there are virtually no architecture firms hiring in our city or the surrounding cities. One owner of a firm from Kansas City actually took the time to respond to him personally rather than through an agency. He told him that this is the worst job market he's seen in 30 years, and he's trying his best just to keep the limited staff he has. He was very kind and even wished Mr. FtK God's blessings with his job search.

Anyway, several months ago, a friend approached us about Obama's weatherization program. He had heard that there was a lot of money being put into this program and wondered if Mr. FtK would be interested in working with him on weatherizing homes. We gave it some thought and looked at the application to get started. He would have to pay for some training and then apparently he'd be working on weatherizing homes here in Topeka. After some thought, we decided that we weren't ready to take a chance on this stimulus supported endeavour. There were just too many questions as to exactly how it worked or how many homes he'd be able to weatherize, etc. Long term, it didn't seem the way to go.

Well, I'm glad we passed up on the program. We've already been burned once due to the poorly managed political decisions that caused the housing market crash. Now it seems the weatherization program is turning into a fiasco as well.

Who could forget the $5 billion in Obama administration stimulus money that was going to rapidly create nearly 90,000 green jobs across the country in these tough economic times and make so many thousands of homes all snuggy and warm and energy-efficient these very snowy days?

Well, a new report due out this morning will show the $5-billion program is so riddled with drafts that so far it's weatherized only about 9,000 homes.

Based on the initial Obama-Biden program promise that it would create 87,000 new jobs its first year, that would be about 10 jobs for each home weatherized so far. Makes for pretty crowded doorways.

ABC News reports that the General Accountability Office will declare today that the Energy Department has fallen woefully behind -- about 98.5% behind -- the 593,000 homes it initially predicted would be weatherized in the Recovery Act's very first, very chilly year.


The Energy folks did tell ABC they've so far spent $522 million Recovery Act dollars on the program. Which works out to, let's see, about $57,362 worth of very expensive weatherstripping for each home fixed up so far.

Seems about right for a federal program.

I do have some good news though. Mr. FtK did find a job last week with a company out of Kansas City that renovates apartment complexes in KC and surrounding cities. The travel is kind of a bugger atm, but that should change in a few months as they will be working on a project here in Topeka for about a year.

I had hopes that maybe the economy was taking a turn as he was finally able to find a job after sending out many, many applications and resumes. But, it seems this company has down sized tremendously as well, and the only reason the opening came up was because a random drug test had been given. Apparently several people were given their pink slips after the results of those tests came back. Oops. Well, Mr. FtK is glad to be working again, but my thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their jobs due to that testing. Hopefully, they will find new employment soon.