The California Housing Partnership, an NLIHC State Coalition Partner, continues its affordable housing policy work related to reducing energy and transportation costs. The California Housing Partnership has set new policy goals for 2015 as the convening organization of the Green Rental home Energy Efficiency Network (GREEN) and a founding member of the Sustainable Communities for All Coalition,
GREEN is a coalition of developers and community organizations working to increase access to energy efficiency resources for multifamily rental properties in general, because most subsidies are skewed toward homeowners, and to ensure that publicly assisted properties that house the state’s lowest-income households receive an equitable distribution of these resources. At their recent annual summit, GREEN members developed several innovative ideas for their 2015 state policy priorities.
“Emphasizing the intersection of housing costs and energy costs has opened a lot of doors in our advocacy work,” said Megan Kirkeby, Sustainable Housing Policy Manager at the California Housing Partnership. “Legislators who are concerned about poverty see this as a way to ease tension on household budgets, while policy makers more focused on the environment see sustainable housing as another key aspect in the effort to preserve natural resources.”
The California Housing Partnership will continue to work with the California Treasurer’s office to launch the Master-Metered Multifamily Financing Pilot (MMMFP) for on-bill repayment. MMMFP will allow nonprofit owners of up to 5,000 units of rent-restricted low income affordable housing to finance a portion of the cost of energy efficiency retrofits directly from savings on utility bills without a deed of trust or any other form of collateral. The California Housing Partnership and Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future developed this tool for financing retrofits to reduce cost barriers that often prevent nonprofits from undertaking retrofits.
The current drought in California has brought water scarcity issues to the policy forefront. GREEN is responding by establishing a working group to explore state or local incentives for water efficiency in multifamily housing. Among other solutions, the working group will pursue expansion of greywater reuse systems that use water from sinks, showers, and washing machines as a safe irrigation source for yards and plant life.
In addition to working on energy efficiency and water issues in conjunction with GREEN, the California Housing Partnership is a leader (along with NLIHC state partner Housing California) in the Sustainable Communities For All (SC4A) coalition. In 2014 SC4A persuaded the state legislature and the governor to set aside 10% of cap-and-trade auction revenues (more than $2 billion over the next six years) for investment in affordable housing that reduces greenhouse gases, at least half of which must occur in disadvantaged census tracts (see Memo, 5/23).
California Housing Partnership President and CEO Matt Schwartz adds that the priority for 2015 is to ensure the new cap-and-trade funded Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program is more effective with deeper affordability levels than initially proposed by the state. “It took a tremendous effort by all concerned to create and fund the AHSC and although the state housing officials are doing their best to make it a good program, we still have a long way to go make sure that our nonprofit housing developer partners can actually use the program to create housing that not only reduces vehicle miles travelled but also provides homes affordable to the very low income people who need them most.”
During their campaign, advocates found that providing quantifiable evidence that affordable homes near transit reduce greenhouse gases was very effective. Along with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, TransForm, and Housing California they produced a report called Why Creating and Preserving Affordable Homes Near Transit is a Highly Effective Climate Protection Strategy (see Memo, 5/23). Advocates say that in order to protect these funds they must continually make the case that low income households are the highest propensity transit riders and the most likely to reduce vehicle miles traveled when they are in close proximity to jobs and services.
In early 2015, the California Housing Partnership will release new research that goes beyond access to transit to show how reductions can also be achieved in rural areas and smaller cities outside of the urban, transit-rich core when there is a sufficient density of jobs and services.
For more information about GREEN’s advocacy efforts or research reports, contact Megan Kirkeby, Sustainable Housing Policy Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Creating and Preserving Affordable Homes Near Transit is a Highly Effective Climate Protection Strategy is at http://www.chpc.net/dnld/AffordableTODResearch051514.pdf