A New Map to Energy Equity
In 2019, Spark Northwest and our partners launched the innovative Solarize the Land Trust program with Homestead Community Land Trust. This program helped bring solar to permanently affordable housing in Seattle. Now, Spark Northwest is partnering with Proud Ground, the largest community land trust in the Pacific Northwest, and Solar for All to help families in the greater Portland area make the shift to clean energy.
Community land trusts deliver permanently affordable housing for people with low to moderate incomes. Income-qualified homebuyers purchase the home but do not own the underlying land which is held in trust. Homes appreciate at a set rate ensuring that the next income-qualified buyer will have an affordable option, even in some of the nation’s hottest real estate markets. By going solar, these owners are saving on their electric bills and making their homes even more affordable for future residents.
For both the Homestead and Proud Ground Solarize campaigns, multicultural outreach has been key to program success. With webinars and in-person workshops translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, and Amharic, Solarize the Land Trust is expanding accessibility for previously underserved communities.
“Solarize the Land Trust is all about reaching people who have historically been excluded from the clean energy transition. By working with Homestead and Proud Ground, we are creating a model for solar on affordable housing.”Former project manager Jill Eikenhorst, Spark Northwest.
Helping land trust homeowners install solar has a big impact. Each system can save the homeowner up to $400 per year and can eliminate the release of up to 3,000 lbs of carbon-dioxide annually, which is the equivalent of 152 gallons of gas. These land trust homeowners will see a combined savings of more than $220,000 over the life of their solar systems.
Solarize the Land Trust is made possible through the generous support of the All Points North Foundation, Ren Che Foundation, Tudor Foundation, and Union Bank Foundation.