SolarCity and Habitat for Humanity of San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys, together with the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), have come together for the first time to build 78 new affordable solar-powered homes in Santa Clarita, California for returning veterans. The new home project is made possible by the CalVet Residential Enriched Neighborhood® (REN) program.
CalVet REN program utilizes the Enriched Neighborhood® model to provide housing, specialized services and training that aims to help veterans returning from combat achieve upward mobility and more smoothly reintegrate into civilian life. The SolarCity crews, including 7 veterans on staff, joined forces to complete the project in a single day for future veteran homeowners. The solar power systems on the first new phase of homes – 26 total – were installed on August 20 and is expected to be fully completed in September 2015. SolarCity will include up to 12 solar panels per home, and the solar power systems are expected to offset a majority of the electricity used in each home.
All CalVet REN homes are at minimum Energy Star Certified, but this new community is the first to feature solar power from SolarCity. SolarCity makes it possible for the veterans to install solar with no upfront cost and save money on energy costs by paying less for solar electricity than they pay for utility power. Veterans are also able to lock in solar power rates for the next 20 years, protecting them from future utility rate increases and increasing their independence from polluting fossil fuels.
"This community is not just housing for veterans, but a true way to honor our returning servicemen and women," said Donna Deutchman, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys. "The partnership with SolarCity will offer veterans an environmentally friendly community with low cost solar energy that also provides long term savings. Beyond the gift of homeownership, the community is intended to be a healthy and sustainable place for families to grow."
Veterans interested in purchasing one of the new solar homes must follow CalVet's REN community guidelines, including the completion of 500 hours of "sweat equity." Veterans, along with hundreds of additional volunteers from local groups and corporations, help to build the homes in the CalVet REN communities. Community partners provide the veterans additional training in self-sufficiency and personal growth for up to a year after they move in.