By Eric Gedstad
Corporate Communications, MassHousing
MassHousing, DHCD and three other Massachusetts quasi-public agencies have come together to advocate for changes in the way that certain energy efficiency program funds are allocated to subsidized rental developments. The hope is to provide a more reliable and predictable source of funds to make affordable apartments more energy efficient.
The chief executives of MassHousing, MassDevelopment, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and CEDAC all signed a letter, along with DHCD Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay, written to the Chair of the state's Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC). The EEAC was created by the Green Communities Act of 2008, a comprehensive energy reform law. EEAC members guide the development of energy efficiency plans by gas and electric utilities and energy providers.
"The existing method of allocating energy efficiency assistance funds works well for small-scale multifamily sites that want to do a retrofit mid-life-cycle, and we do not want to imply, in any way that the current low-income program does not well serve a vital segment of the affordable housing spectrum" said Deborah Goddard, MassHousing's Managing Director for Policy and Program Development. "However, it is not well-suited to larger, commercial multifamily properties, particularly those that want to coordinate the incentives with refinancing and rehabilitation. We hope to change that for the better."
The letter seeks to influence the Energy Efficiency Investment Plan for the years 2016-2018 and to streamline the process whereby multifamily housing owners access utility ratepayer funding programs. The focus of the recommendations is an initiative for the commercial multifamily housing industry within the commercial and industrial segment of the program that serves a moderate and middle income tier.
The five agencies agree that there should be a uniform definition of "low- and moderate-income;" that financial incentives should be available at the point of recapitalization and refinancing; that capital work related to the incentives should be incorporated into the scope of work by the owner’s contractor; and that the funding should be integrated into the subsidy allocation process in partnership with the Commonwealth's affordable housing agencies.
You can read the entire letter here.