This sector includes very different housing types, such as large multi-family buildings, small apartment buildings and single-family houses. These residential buildings may be owned by city agencies, private landlords, multi-family affordable housing developers and individual homeowners. In Philadelphia, 42% of homeowners are generational, meaning their home was inherited— sometimes without a mortgage and with significant deferred maintenance. There are robust waitlists for public housing and homelessness prevention/home repair programs, and healthy home intervention programs are dramatically underfunded.
Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Energy + Resiliency ESCO project
In May 2016, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (“PHA”) Board of Commissioners engaged Johnson Controls Inc. for energy, water and audit services and for implementation of energy performance contracts. JCI is currently in the auditing phase to develop appropriate scope. They have focused on hiring PHA residents and emphasized Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises participation. PHA’s project is targeting 20,000 public housing units, including both multi-family and scattered sites. This is one of the most innovative energy projects attempted by any housing agency nationwide, incorporating climate resiliency in addition to energy efficiency.
PEA is providing support to ensure use of local, skilled labor with an emphasis on minority involvement, to assist PHA’s efforts to integrate with existing utility programs, and to support the addition of solar wherever feasible.
City Council Housing Preservation Initiative
City Council recently passed an increase to the Realty Transfer Tax of 0.1% which will generate enough revenue to support Council’s Housing Preservation priorities. Council released a bond in May 2017, focused on $60 million to be used to eliminate the waiting list for the Basic Systems Repair Program (“BSRP”), the Weatherization Assistance Program (“WAP”), and the Adaptive Modification Program (“AMP”). PEA encouraged Council to take another step and add $40 million additional for a loan program scheduled to go into effect in late 2017 for further to address fundamental home repair issues for those just above the income limits for the existing grant programs and fill in the gaps in existing repair services.
PEA participated on three Housing Preservation committees: Grants, Loans, and Repairs. Our priority is to apply this one-time infusion (via municipal bond) of unrestricted funds in a way that substantively impacts poverty and affordable housing in Philadelphia. In particular, we are advocating for a program that would allow for a hybrid of grants and loans on a sliding scale, and that would re-define repair measures to include high efficiency HVAC and water-heating equipment, building insulation and energy-efficient windows, in addition to the air and water sealing currently provided via WAP. We believe that the loan programs should address all measures that are available through existing grant programs. Existing grant programs should incorporate energy efficiency and health whenever they touch a home.
We expect this loan program will address some issues but not all. PEA is also collaborating with the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (“PHDC”), which administers BSRP, WAP and AMP to analyze the existing waitlist and generate recommendations to manage the backlog quickly and efficiently.
Voluntary Green and Affordable Housing Pilot
To address the need for a more comprehensive approach to housing preservation, we are developing an additional pilot for single family homes, similar to the Energy Coordinating Agency’s EnergyFit program, while incorporating rebates, existing program grants and financing where appropriate.
PEA is partnering with a social service and housing non-profit to develop a model for redeveloping vacant properties in the city to high levels of energy efficiency. The program will leverage partners to train youth and returning citizens in traditional and specialized trade skills so that they can develop efficient and affordable homes in their own neighborhoods. Development partners will be incentivized to keep the properties affordable through rent controls, a rent-to-own plan, or sale at an affordable rate. Program specifics are still in development and program implementation is expected in early 2018.
Multi-Family Housing Pilot
One of the key target groups for the Energy Campaign is multi-family affordable housing developers. Multi-family buildings have unique features, financing structures, opportunities and requirements when it comes to energy efficiency. We have put together a team to launch our initial multi-family pilot, which will serve as the model for scaling up across Philadelphia. The implementation partners for Phase 1 of the Multi-Family Affordable Housing Developers Pilot are Mission First Housing Group, Friends Rehabilitation Program, BlocPower, CMC Energy Services, PECO Energy, Philadelphia Gas Works, and the Philadelphia Water Department. Phase 1 is well underway with the auditing of the Mission First Housing Group and Friends Rehabilitation Program properties, totaling 190 units, approaching completion. CMC Energy Services has collected key data on the multi-family properties and will conduct direct installation to address electricity consumption reduction. The audit information will serve as critical input to the Bloc Power modeling tools which will identify and prioritize retrofit opportunities that could yield maximum energy cost savings for the property owners. Over the next few months, proposals for implementing recommended conservation measures will be assembled to include product and labor estimates to aid the property owners in decision making concerning upgrades to the multi-family units. PEA will also continue to evaluate and add to the portfolio of financing alternatives to fund the energy efficiency retrofits.
It is the implementation of the conservation measures, that will create jobs for subcontractors who specialize in energy efficiency implementations, to include lighting upgrades and controls, repair & replacement of HVAC, roofing, window replacements, water pipes.
Philadelphia Housing Photo Essay
As PEA participates in conversations with public and private entities and agencies to develop programs that support the preservation of existing, affordable homes, we want to shed light on the types of homes we are discussing, and the conditions that exist in both owned and rented low and moderate income housing in Philadelphia. We began a photo essay project with local photographer Jordan Baumgarten to begin to document the types of home repairs and affordability issues common to our unique city. We are deeply grateful for the willingness of participating residents to let us share images of their homes. We hope the project will inform dignified, helpful policy and program ideas to improve the quality of life for all Philadelphians.
This photo is the first in a larger series, which will be released in Fall 2017.