Washington Green Communities Retrofit Loan Fund Launched

Olympia, Wash.--The goal of the fund is to encourage the addition of sustainable features.

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Olympia, Wash.–The Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) and Columbia, Md.-based Enterprise Community Partners Inc. have created the Washington Green Communities Retrofit Loan Fund, a total of $2 million available to owners of multifamily affordable housing properties in Washington state. The goal of the fund is to encourage the addition of sustainable features to multifamily properties in the state, thus reducing their operating expenses and carbon footprint.

The fund will target properties in both rural and urban areas that were financed through the federal low-income housing tax credit program. As part of the loan, the properties will undergo a full energy audit to determine the potential savings that any retrofit might generate. Enterprise, a provider of the development capital and expertise to affordable multifamily property developers, already operates a number of retrofit pilot programs in large cities throughout the country.

“Financing will be tied to retrofit activities that enhance resource conservation, indoor-air quality, and overall health of the project,” Paul Cummings, senior vice president and western regional executive of Enterprise, tells MHN. “This will likely include activities such as increasing insulation levels, improving ventilation systems, sealing ducts, upgrading fixtures, and replacing outdated HVAC systems and windows.”

The average multifamily affordable housing property incurs over $700 per unit in annual utility costs. Through retrofitting activities that reduce energy and water consumption, building owners can save an estimated 15 to 20 percent, according to Enterprise. Currently in the pilot stage, Enterprise and WSHFC estimate that about 20 loans will be made through the fund, with loans averaging $100,000 each.

“Greening and preserving affordable multifamily housing is an important component to our work at the commission,” Steve Walker, director of the Tax Credit Division, WSHFC, noted in a statement. “This fund offers developers a viable option to maintain affordability while achieving sustainability.”