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Minnesota Multifamily Affordable Housing Energy Network

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About

The purpose of the Minnesota Multifamily Affordable Housing Energy Network (MMAHEN) is to increase energy efficiency and conservation in multifamily buildings of five units or more in Minnesota by improving and expanding the use and equitable access of available resources.

In Minnesota, affordable multifamily homes have been difficult to reach with energy efficiency retrofits and upgrades, despite representing a sizeable portion of the overall housing stock in some areas. As a result, residents, affordable housing providers, and communities are not realizing the full benefits that energy efficiency can bring to their homes, budgets, and health.

MMAHEN believes that a unified, collaborative approach has the greatest potential to develop and implement effective solutions to enhance the efficiency of multifamily housing in Minnesota. Members strive to cultivate an accessible and inclusive network with under-resourced communities, renters, and people of color centered in all of our work. MMAHEN aims to build on existing partnerships, foster the development of new connections, and make full use of the extensive skills and expertise among its members.

Priorities

MMAHEN works to identify and address:

  • Regulatory barriers that should be removed;
  • Opportunities for improved coordination among efficiency programs and affordable housing funders;
  • Pathways for tenants to secure energy saving improvements for their buildings, especially where owners are not motivated to act;
  • Gaps in current energy efficiency programs, such as incentive structures that act as barriers to participation, geographic gaps in multifamily program coverage, and a lack of pathways for addressing health and safety issues;
  • Long-term planning for the next generation of programs that will address affordable multifamily needs in a holistic way across the entire state;
  • City-specific opportunities, such as benchmarking activities, health partnerships, and health, safety, and efficiency standards for rental housing; and
  • Other avenues for increasing the efficiency of affordable multifamily housing

Recent Successes

Since its first meeting in July 2014, MMAHEN has grown to consist of 63 members across 39 organizations. Highlights of the last five years of work include:

  • The launch of a best-practice multifamily program that is jointly delivered by the state’s largest electric and largest gas utilities.
  • The creation by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency of an Energy Rebate Analysis requirement for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit applicants, which requires applicants to meet with their local utilities and estimate the rebates they will be able to secure for energy-saving measures.
  • The state’s Weatherization Assistance Program administrator setting aside funding for multifamily weatherization, accessible by any weatherization provider in the state.
  • The inclusion of multifamily in Minneapolis’ benchmarking ordinance.
  • A program launched by Minneapolis to preserve naturally-occurring affordable housing by linking owners to a statewide property tax abatement, while securing affordability commitments and encouraging owners to access city and utility energy efficiency resources.
  • The creation by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency of a new position dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in Minnesota’s affordable housing stock.
  • Successful education of lawmakers about the importance of multifamily PACE.
  • Bringing on board two renter groups as EEFA partners.

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