Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
San Francisco–The state of California has awarded $3 million from the State Energy Program to a partnership of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, Enterprise Community Partners Inc. and the Low Income Investment Fund. The award is the first of its kind, and will help facilitate energy efficiency and green retrofits in 26 San Francisco Bay Area multifamily buildings over the next two years.
The new partnership, called the Affordable Multifamily Retrofit Initiative, will leverage the initial award amount with private capital to create a $4 million green retrofit loan fund. Beginning this spring, the initiative will provide technical support and loans to projects in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, as well as other Bay Area jurisdictions.
The initiative’s loans will finance energy- and water-efficiency improvements to existing, older affordable multifamily housing developments and be repaid through savings on utility expenses. Some 1,300 apartments in the targeted areas will be served through the initiative, aiming to reduce energy and water consumption by at least 25 percent.
Previously, investment in energy improvements to affordable housing has been limited in northern California. The participants in the Affordable Multifamily Retrofit Initiative posit that it will help the affordable multifamily owners involved catch up with the greening of market-rate properties, which is already well under way.
“Sustainability is a key for affordable housing owners,” Rich Gross, vice president and Northern California impact market leader, Enterprise Community Partners, tells MHN. “They’ll see lower and more predictable operating costs because of the energy savings and therefore will be able to continue to provide quality affordable housing.”
The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing will oversee program administration, while Enterprise Community Partners Inc. and the Low Income Investment Fund will jointly administer the loan fund. The partners add that they will place a strong emphasis on gathering data to prove the viability of underwriting loans based on projected energy savings.