“Impact through Infrastructure” - While succinct, these words encapsulate Sol Systems’ commitment to driving positive societal impact. They are a call to action – a mission to empower and elevate the communities we serve as part of an equitable transition to a sustainable energy future. This effort is rooted in Sol Systems’ engagement with local leaders and partners to foster an approach to sustainable infrastructure that pairs solar energy projects with long-term investments in ecosystems and communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.
In this edition of our Infrastructure + Impact Spotlight Series, we pay homage to our partner, SOME, an interfaith community-based service organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through programs and services that help transform lives of individuals and families, their communities, and the systems and structures that affect them. Each day, SOME strives to restore hope and dignity one person at a time through its integrated “Whole Person Care” approach. What began as a lunch line on the corner of North Capitol and K Street more than 50 years ago has flourished into an esteemed leader for affordable housing, healthcare, rehabilitative services, education, employment training, and food security throughout Washington, D.C.
SOME is actively redefining affordable housing in the District by creating a stable foundation where its residents can explore their potential. SOME provides transitional housing programs for those earning 30% or less of the Family Median Income ($38,700 for a family of four as of 2021) while ensuring that residents progress by teaching them to create budgets, financial goals, and sustainable payment plans. Since opening its first transitional housing program in 1986, SOME now operates a portfolio of over 1,300 affordable housing units for single adults, families, and senior citizens, preparing them for homeownership or market-rate rents through a step-by-step process.
Take the Bonner Family, for example. Their time living in SOME's two-year accelerated housing program helped them make great strides. During the pandemic, with the program's help, the Bonners saved over $14,000 in housing costs and more than $800 in emergency savings, all while paying off their credit card debt and building a strong credit score, allowing them to move into a new home in the District in 2022.
Photo credit: The Bonner Family
This dynamic approach to care is especially critical in a city like Washington, D.C., where in the past two decades, the number of affordable housing units has decreased while the number of high-cost housing units has multiplied.  The resulting structural barriers continue to affect low-income residents’ ability to afford safe and healthy housing, food, and utilities, among other necessities.
It is because of these realities that Sol Systems remains committed to supporting community leaders like SOME to fill critical gaps by leveraging the benefits of sustainable infrastructure such as solar energy, energy efficiency and critical home health and safety upgrades to drive positive environmental and community impacts beyond the carbon reduction inherent in clean energy. In the spirit of this partnership, on May 17th, 2022, Sol Systems, FedEx, and SOME announced a special arrangement that spreads the benefits of the Sol Systems-developed 915 kW rooftop community solar project at the FedEx Express Eckington Place facility even further into the District. FedEx is allocating the bill credits generated from the solar installation, along with a supplemental cash donation, to SOME to offset the annual electricity costs at two of its facilities located in Ward 5 – Weinberg House, an affordable housing facility that is home to 28 families and Isaiah House, home to a day program for homeless adults with severe and persistent mental illness. Beyond this immediate impact, reducing the energy burden of these facilities will enhance SOME’s ability to devote additional resources to initiatives that empower its clients to create long-term, sustainable change.
Sol Systems’ commitment to under-resourced communities is a priority shared by the leadership and staff. On April 20th, 2022, we joined SOME to celebrate Earth Day by working on beautification projects at Zagami House – one of SOME’s housing sites where Sol Systems had previously made contributions toward HVAC and energy efficient appliance upgrades. The projects, which included planting of seasonal flowers, assembly of raised garden beds, and mulching of playground areas revitalized Zagami’s grounds for residents to enjoy. Partnering with organizations like SOME shows how meaningful collaboration with communities can help to tackle local challenges and ensure that all communities participate in the clean energy economy. To learn more about how SOME drives impact through meaningful community engagement, please visit SOME’s website at: SOME.org.
 District of Columbia DHCD 2019