BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Sarah Bellow lives in Thompkins Houses in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but on this day she’s on the roof of another Public Housing development, Glenwood in Flatlands, Brooklyn. She's working.
“I love it," said Bellow said. "I love every aspect of it even down to the workout, as you can tell."
She’s happy to be employed. Like so many people she lost her last job in March of last year because of the pandemic. 
“The government helped during that time so it cushioned a little, but I think it’s more of the mental effect of not working that really bothers the most,” Bellow said.
She’s one of a dozen public housing residents installing solar panels on the roofs of public housing buildings. She started in December after applying online.
“Once I got this, it was so rejuvenating you know, coming back to life in a work aspect,” Bellow recalled.
It’s an apprenticeship started by Con Edison, The New York City Housing Authority and several partners. Under the deal, roof space for solar panels is rented from the Housing Authority. The money earned goes back into the development, about $5,000 per year.
“It goes directly into their operating fund," said Vice President of Energy Sustainability at NYCHA, Vlada Kenniff. "They can use that funding to paint benches, waste management supplies etcetera."

So far, the Housing Authority is making solar power, in deals like this, on Harlem’s Carver Houses in Manhattan and Long Island City’s Queensbridge Houses in Queens. Crown Heights’ Kingsborough Houses in Brooklyn is next.

"We’re gonna look to scale it and see where it goes but certainly there’s a potential to scale it over time," said Consolidated Edison Company of New York CEO Tim Cawley. "It depends on the roof and the structure, if the roof can handle the solar panels, but we’ll certainly look to expand it."
The program also offers 400 low and moderate income renters citywide the chance to sign up to use solar energy and save about $120 per year on their bills, only a few dozen have signed up so far.
Sarah Bellow says she may opt in, but she’s more focused on turning this project based temp job and new skill set into a career.

“Being from the projects people always, you know, you get a sense you can’t do this, you can do that,” Bellows said. "But it’s up to us to take advantage of the opportunities that are there and I have too many goals to just sit around and do nothing.”
Her hope is to move out of public housing and move up.
“That’s why this means so much to me,” said Bellows.