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Making Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing More Efficient: Outreach to Upgrade

This paper was presented at the 2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. View the accompanying presentation here

Naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH), also referred to as the “forgotten stock,” represents 80% of the available affordable housing stock nationally and is a critical part of our nation’s housing that is available to families earning at or below 80% of the area median income. Because of the large number of these homes, addressing NOAH housing is critical to scaling deep retrofits in affordable housing.

NOAH housing is non-rent restricted housing and is unsubsidized affordable housing, putting it highly at risk of remaining affordable in many markets. For this paper, we will use the term unsubsidized affordable housing to refer to all forms of naturally occurring affordable housing. Preserving this stock as affordable is critical to solving our housing shortage while making this stock more efficient and resilient is important to climate change and equity because of the large number of NOAH buildings. Despite the importance of unsubsidized affordable housing, it is considered hard to find- much of this housing is privately owned- and little attention has been given to upgrading and improving this stock. To engage and make the unsubsidized affordable stock more efficient and resilient a comprehensive approach to building upgrades that includes thoughtful outreach, deep technical assistance, contractor engagement, and access to financial resources is needed.

This paper will discuss successful program models being implemented in Wisconsin by Elevate and Sustain Dane and in Delaware by New Ecology that is making unsubsidized affordable housing more efficient and resilient through energy and water efficiency and the addition of renewable energy.

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