New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recently released $41 billion affordable housing plan to create or preserve 200,000 units for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers over the next ten years contains an important green component – a sustainable retrofit pilot program. The pilot program would be an “outreach and financial assistance program to provide grants or loans, as appropriate, to accelerate investments in energy and water efficiency projects,” according to the mayor’s affordable housing report.
Image via Scott Lynch
The report cites an increase of six percent in utility costs and 20 percent in fuel costs between 2012 and 2013 as the main reasons for the sustainability incentives because “this has increased rent burden for tenants and eroded bottom lines for property owners, which can lead to deferral of maintenance and capital needs.” Energy and water efficiency retrofits, especially in older and affordable housing stock, can save money and the environment.
While funding and competitive grant details have not been released yet by the mayor’s office, the report cites a previous successful pilot project as a model — East Harlem’s Franklin Plaza, which received $3.8 in loans through the NYC Housing Development Corporation’s Program for Energy Retrofit Loans (PERL). The loans will reduce energy usage by 15 percent, cut carbon emissions by 30 percent and result in energy savings that are equivalent to averting a 10 percent rent increase.
De Blasio also wants to create a loan program to help low-, moderate-, and middle-income owners reduce the cost of flood insurance. Last year the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updated its flood maps, adding 29,000 new residential properties to New York City’s high-risk zones.
Lead image via Kevin Case