Making multifamily residential properties more energy efficient is a key strategy for reducing the disproportionate energy cost burden facing families on limited incomes. Energy cost burden is the percentage of household income spent on energy bills.
EEFA has completed City Challenge Pilots in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Kansas City to better understand the specific barriers each city faces when it comes to motivating affordable multifamily owners to pursue efficiency and to identify new strategies for engaging the affordable multifamily sector.
The intentions of the City Challenge Pilots were:
to determine whether or not the “challenge” concept, which has worked very well in the commercial sector, could work in the affordable multifamily sector as well;
to better understand the specific barriers each city faces when it comes to motivating affordable multifamily owners to pursue efficiency; and
to identify new strategies for engaging the affordable multifamily sector and helping them make their properties more efficient.
The initial final report from Los Angeles shows that 14 owners, 139 buildings and 2,745 units were enrolled during the pilot. The Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge (LABBC), the sponsor of the LA Affordable Housing Initiative, found that working closely with affordable housing and multifamily housing trade associations to promote efficiency at their events, leveraging relationships with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Department of Housing & Community Investment to identify and connect with potential participants, and providing comprehensive assistance navigating programs to help owners pursue efficiency were effective ways to engage subsidized affordable housing owners. The LABBC also intends to continue running the Affordable Housing Initiative they developed through the pilot.
In addition, the final report from Chicago highlighted the work they did to educate the five portfolio owners they engaged through the challenge and showed there were valuable learnings around owner and staff education and developing new strategies to work with owners on their entire portfolio instead of one building at a time.
Final reports from Kansas City and Atlanta are currently in the development process. We hope that these reports will help us gain additional valuable insights that can be shared across our network of coalitions. Initial results point to the conclusion that challenges may not be the most effective means of engaging the affordable multifamily sector, however the pilots have illuminated numerous alternative strategies for engaging the sector and new insights into the barriers these owners face and how we can help them to overcome those barriers.