Could low income housing soon lead in renewable energy and human capital potential?

September 4, 2015 Written by  Comments Print
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During the past 90 days, three key dominos have fallen in succession for the recipe to unlock the true renewable energy and human capital potential of our great nation's low income housing communities.

First up, access to information. ConnectHome is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Obama Administration joint initiative that will accelerate broadband internet adoption by children and families living in HUD-assisted housing across the nation. The goal of the initiative is to bring these families into the digital economy while flattening the globe of opportunities into an otherwise island of difficult times and limiting beliefs.

On deck is an Obama Administration initiative geared to increase solar access for all Americans. Solar For All aims to drastically expand rooftop PV solar electricity, which can yield up to a 30% discount on a home’s electricity bill, especially for the nearly 50% of households and business that are renters or do not have adequate roof space. The initiative will also expand opportunities to join the solar workforce, including funding for AmeriCorps to deploy solar and create jobs in underserved communities.

Completing the triple play, the introduction of a new methodology for completing Utility Allowances for Multifamily Housing. The purpose of a Utility Allowance is to determine how much energy a single dwelling within a public housing community consumes so that an appropriate amount for utilities can be built into a tenant’s rent charges. There are several methods for how this can be calculated, but starting this Fall, HUD will require HUD housing program landlords to actually measure how much energy their tenants consume and charge them accurately.

This is good news as it will incentivize energy efficiency improvements to buildings because landlords’ allowable rental income is now directly affected by their tenants actual utility costs. This energy efficient vision includes increased profits for the landlord, lower cost of living for the residents, lower environmental impact and new economies of scale built inside a once forgotten garden.

Low income housing currently makes up 8.5% of our nation's housing stock and 14.4% of our population. That equates to an estimated 45,725,936 human beings, fellow citizens young and old, and based on some expectations upwards of 20% of our nation's future population by 2050.

So who is leading the way? Vantage Management is a good example. 90 days into a 180 day compliance mandate, they have contracted greeNEWit to complete the utility allowances calculations. By working with greeNEWit, they will become Subsidized Housing compliant 90 days early, save an estimated 20% of compliance costs, reduce landlord and tenant’s utilities cost and work towards building their sustainable communities through a renewable energy future with access to information. Horning Brothers, a well known real estate owner/manager in the Mid-Atlantic region is also working with greeNEWit to proactively organize their portfolios compliance across 9 properties in the District of Columbia.

This is a rare but important example of how coordinated, comprehensive policy can lead to the opportunity for market improvements, self correcting business practices and long-term sustainable community development.


About greeNEWit

If you are interested in learning more about these trends in affordable housing or in need of completing utility allowancesutility allowances for your community, please don’t hesitate to contact us! As a national leader in sustainable community development and smart grid integration, greeNEWit develops, manages, and implements net-zero trajectory assets to help make communities more resilient, sustainable, and economically prosperous.