More and more people are getting rooftop solar across the state, but environmental justice communities have historically faced many barriers to accessing solar both as a technology and as an industry. Many environmental justice communities have high rates of rent and if we truly want to see a Just Transition, policies that give communities a voice must be implemented with community-based decision making, a strong emphasis on workforce development opportunities in the solar industry, and fair access to solar savings.
This year, the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program launched as a result of AB 693, a bill that CEJA proudly co-sponsored and helped pass in 2015. SOMAH is a landmark program designed to serve the needs of environmental justice communities living in multifamily affordable housing units with a community-based education and feedback structure that aims to address barriers to access. The state has been directed to invest $1 billion of rooftop solar for low-income renters over the next 10 years. SOMAH will fund 300 megawatts of solar on 2,000 existing multifamily affordable housing buildings, with the potential to serve over 150,000 low-income renters.
CEJA is working with our members Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, and Environmental Health Coalition as community-based partners in the SOMAH Program Administration (PA) team. We are working directly with tenants, property owners, job trainees in our communities to build power through outreach and education. Through our outreach about solar and other program benefits we aim to educate and implement a Just Transition in the communities that need it most.