BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
In an effort to assist homeowners with concerns ranging from property tax issues and home repairs to violation removals and energy cost reduction, the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) partnered with the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation (HPD) to host a special Landlord Resource Fair on Sept. 3 at I.S. 93 in Ridgewood.
Homeowners and residents were given the opportunity to meet one-on-one with experts from a host of city agencies and utility providers to learn more about special programs, savings and incentives available to local home and building owners. Representatives from local agencies, including the city’s Department of Sanitation, HPD Preservation Finance Department, NYC Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYC EEC) and HPD Neighborhood Preservation Service, were on hand to offer advice and services.
“We do this at our September meeting every year,” explained RPOCA’s current counsel and former president, Paul Kerzner. “There are about eight agencies here from the city, and the people are lined up to talk with each one. They get a lot out of it and it works. Plus we always get a new crop of homeowners that come to the meetings and sign up to become RPOCA members.”
The fair was organized by Pam Glaser, the director of public outreach and education for the NYC HPD’s Office of Neighborhood Strategies.
“We work with local groups, in this case RPOCA, and we’re happy to do this,” Glaser explained. “We go out several times a month to do either owner or tenant nights in all five boroughs.”
“This has got to be the sixth or seventh year that we’ve done this with HPD, and Pam Glaser is a pleasure to work with,” Kerzner added. “She knows the Ridgewood neighborhood and she knows what’s on the mind of the small Ridgewood property owner.”
Representatives from the NYC EEC were on hand to discuss loan options and financing for energy efficiency and fuel conversions with homeowners. The NYC EEC recently partnered with the NYC HPD on an initiative called The Green Housing Preservation Program (GHPP) aimed at improving energy efficiency and water conservation through upgrades such as the installation of efficient light fixtures, low-flow water fixtures and insulation. A maximum loan of $50,000 per unit is available to homeowners of five or more units per building.
“Our organization was founded in 2011 by the city through a grant from the Department of Energy,” explained Posie Constable, director of business development for the NYC EEC. “We use the money we receive from the DOE to lend to building and property owners to reduce the amount of energy they use in their building, which in turn helps improve the building property value and tenant comfort.”
Representatives from Solar One, the city’s leading organization on green energy education, were also on hand to help homeowners with questions about converting their hot water and electrical systems over to solar energy. Kerzner, a longtime fan and advocate of the use of solar energy, converted his Ridgewood home to solar power nearly 10 years ago.
“Solar is very affordable,” he said. “My electric bill is $6.42 a month, in both the winter and summer, so it’s definitely worthwhile.” Kerzner estimates the return on the initial investment in solar panels to be roughly four to six years.