NLIHC, the National Housing Law Project (NHLP), and the National Housing Trust (NHT) submitted comments on October 27 in response to HUD’s request for information (RFI) regarding the Green and Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP). Comments were focused on responding to two questions posed by the RFI: (1) In designing the GRRP, what equity considerations should HUD have? (2) In awarding GRRP funds to HUD-assisted properties, what targeting criteria should HUD consider?
The GRRP – which provides $1 billion in funding – is the sole housing-related component of the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” (IRA) signed by President Biden on August 16. The IRA is a significantly scaled-down version of the “Build Back Better Act,” which would have provided $150 billion in funding for targeted affordable housing investments. The IRA does not include resources to address the nation’s limited housing supply, skyrocketing rents, or the needs of an increasing number of people experiencing homelessness.
An NHT policy brief explains that HUD will administer the GRRP, which will award $837.5 million to owners and sponsors of privately owned properties assisted by the following programs: Project-Based Section 8 and Section 236, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities. The funds can be used to improve energy or water efficiency and indoor air quality or sustainability; implement the use of low-emission technologies, materials, or processes; address climate resilience; and establish energy and water benchmarking.
Regarding equity considerations:
- The comment letter states that HUD should require funding recipients to meaningfully engage and consult with residents, ensuring that HUD-assisted residents are part of the decision-making process.
- The application and review process should take into consideration and plan for the special needs of elderly residents and those with disabilities who might need additional utility allowance payments to cover the costs associated with using medical equipment.
- Residents should be able to weigh in on healthy housing concerns such as mold, pests, and water infiltration.
- Require owners of extensive retrofit projects to meaningfully engage with residents to determine how funds should be used and to inform residents of the purpose of retrofitting and the impact that it will have on residents.
- Require owners to provide notice to and consult with residents at three stages: prior to submitting an application to determine needs, again when funds are awarded, and during the construction process. Residents should have opportunities to comment at each of these stages, and HUD should weigh resident comments.
- All program materials should be provided directly to residents without cost. (Materials include the GRRP application, the final plan, any relocation plan, and any subsequent amendments to the plan.)
- HUD must provide ongoing monitoring, and residents should be informed of who is responsible for monitoring owner compliance and who will address resident complaints.
- The comment letter states that HUD should protect tenants from displacement and utility cost increases.
- Require compliance with the Uniform Relocation Act (URA).
- Require owners to submit a relocation plan for HUD approval.
- In cases involving long-term relocation, require pass-through leases or temporary relocation to existing PBRA properties, preferably in the same or nearby neighborhood.
- Ensure that residents are not displaced due to informal evictions, subsidy terminations, or re-screening.
- At properties with individual unit utility metering, require evaluation of prior utility allowance schedules and set new utility allowances before GRRP is provided.
- Maintain master utility metering where it currently exists and allow properties to convert to master metering because owners are most capable of bearing the costs of utilities and are more directly benefiting from energy improvements and efficiency.
Regarding criteria for targeting properties and evaluating resilience strategies:
- The comment letter states HUD should target funds to improvements that ensure long-term affordability.
- Do not approve any plans that would result in a net loss of units.
- Require owners to agree to a 20-year affordability term beyond an existing stated affordability term.
- Require a GRRP use restriction recorded against the property that will apply to any future owners and that states owners will accept all Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract renewals for the next 20 years, and that residents’ rents (which includes utilities) will be capped at 30% of their adjusted income.
- If an applicant property is troubled, including one with a most recent Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) score of less than 60 with Exigent Health and Safety deficiencies, HUD must require the owner to execute a HUD-approved plan developed in consultation with residents to address all deficiencies.
- Prioritize awarding GRRP funds to mission-driven nonprofit owners.
- The comment letter states HUD should require GRRP recipients to prioritize disaster readiness by submitting an emergency preparedness and response plan.
Read the joint NLIHC, NHLP, and NHT comment letter at: https://bit.ly/3DuVTVt
Read NHT’s policy brief, “The Inflation Reduction Act: Opportunities to Preserve and Improve Affordable Housing through Resilience,” at: https://bit.ly/3h8tSM4
Read the HUD Request for Information at: https://bit.ly/3zClFWu
Read about the Project-Based Section 8 program on page 4-67 of NLIHC’s 2022 Advocates’ Guide.
Read about the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program on page 4-73 of NLIHC’s 2022 Advocates’ Guide.
Read about the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program on page 4-78 of NLIHC’s 2022 Advocates’ Guide.