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Seattle‘s ’Green Jobs’ Stimulus Success… Wait, Isn’t This A Massive Failure?


"There’s been no real investment for the broader public."

Seattle's Mayor Mike McGinn was so proud to be invited to the White House last year by VP Joe Biden.  McGinn's city, Seattle had been chosen to be one of the 25 communities to receive a $20 million dollar slice of the $452 million dollars allocated through the Stimulus program as part of something called "Retrofit Ramp Up."

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Retrofit Ramp Up is a program from the Department of Energy that was spending Stimulus dollars to have houses insulated and made more energy efficient. The plan was to funnel cash into local economies with the intent to create good-paying green jobs while simultaneously reducing energy consumption. Just over a year later, we are starting to see the results of the program.

Seattle's $20 million dollar allocation was projected to create some 2000 "green jobs" and retrofit at least 2000 homes. Mayor McGinn's website calls the program "Weatherize Every Building" (WEB) and when the stimulus award was announced, the mayor made a strong prediction:

WEB Initiative will create nearly 2,000 living wage green jobs, and will leverage the grant funding seven-to-one with local investments in energy efficiency.

Just over a year later, the facts on this "Green Jobs" project are not exactly encouraging. Seattle TV station KOMO4 reports:

But more than a year later, Seattle's numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable.

The entire KOMO report is here:

Only three homes have been retrofitted or insulated in a year? One report claims that only 337 homeowners have stepped up and applied for the program, with only 14 gaining approval.

The effect that the program has had on Seattle's unemployment is also questionable. In April of 2010, when the $20 million dollar block grant was announced, Seattle's unemployment stood at 9.0%. As of June 2011, Seattle had a 9.3% unemployment number.

The city of Seattle has the money available to spend and the grant is good until 2013. Seattle's City Manager for Community Power Works, Joshua Curtis says in order to create 2000 jobs, the city needs to retrofit 100-200 homes each month. According to the KOMO report, they have yet to reach double digits in total.

Over a year since the announcement, the city of Seattle has created 14 jobs.

The lack of jobs is no surprise to local Green Advocates. Go Green is a community organizing group that says it works for the environment and social justice. Got Green's director Michael Woo (as seen in the KOMO report) says:

“It’s been a very slow and tedious process. It’s almost painful, the number of meetings people have gone to. Those are the people who got jobs. There’s been no real investment for the broader public.”

Even the Greenies see this as disaster.

Epic Fail.


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