The Biden administration, through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, has announced new measures to connect families served by HUD programs with solar energy and help lower electricity bills.
More than 4.5 million low-income families are currently served through HUD programs. In addition to today’s announcement, HUD will continue to reach out and invite stakeholders in regional and local offices to highlight federal funding sources — including funding streams from President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, and HUD programs such as the Home Investment Partnerships Program and Community Development Community. and CDBG that can be used to improve energy efficiency and reduce utility costs for communities including HUD-supporting properties and residents.
“The combination of extreme heat and high utility prices is creating a perfect storm, and HUD-supported families and communities are among the most vulnerable,” said Minister Marcia Fudge.
“The steps announced by the Biden administration today will not only help families reduce utility costs, but will also provide an opportunity for HUD-assisted residents to participate in the clean energy economy through local community solar programs.”
Here’s information on how HUD can benefit from specific programs and take new steps to help ease energy cost burdens through Community Solar, HUD’s Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base Utility program, FHA’s 203(k) mortgage insurance program, and FHA financing Energy Efficiency, Climate Mitigation Home Improvements, FHA Education and Awareness.
New guidelines to connect families with solar energy
HUD is issuing national guidelines to help ensure that subsidized dwelling residents can access cost-effective community solar subscriptions.
With this guidance, HUD is paving the way for 4.5 million households to reap the benefits of community solar energy which, on average, can save families 10% annually on their electricity bills. In some programs, such as the Washington, DC Solar for All program, savings from a local community solar subscription can be as high as 50% per year.
This national guidance builds on recent state guidance provided by HUD to Illinois, Washington, D.C., and New York that CNM balances will be excluded from household income and utility allowance calculations and thus will not increase housing costs for residents of properties participating in the assistance programs. HUD multifamily voucher rental, public housing and housing option.
Instructions can be found here.
Rolling Frozen Small Rural Utilities Program
Last year, HUD implemented new legal changes that created a new program to stimulate the provision of power and water for small rural housing authorities.
The Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base Program enables small rural housing authorities to retain utility cost savings from efficiency or capital investments from conservation measures.
Now, HUD is launching an education and partnership campaign to encourage wider use of the incentive and help housing authorities partner with Weatherization providers to come up with low-cost energy efficiency measures.
HUD will publish a list of eligible rural housing authorities, as well as a list of buildings owned or occupied by those housing authorities that meet the new categorical income eligibility requirements for the Department of Weathering Energy Program. Before the September deadline for new applicants to the Frozen Rolling Base Program, HUD will redouble its outreach efforts to ensure that eligible housing authorities are aware of savings opportunities.
Read more about the Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base Program here and see the list of eligible public housing authorities here. A list of properties that meet the income eligibility requirements for the Department of Energy’s weathering program is available here.
FHA 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program
Given the urgent need for utility cost savings, HUD educates lenders and homebuyers about the products the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers for energy improvements that may help homeowners reduce their utility costs.
- The 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program is the primary FHA program to rehabilitate and repair single-family properties, and is flexible and makes it easy to incorporate repair costs into the loan when buying a home or refinancing an existing mortgage. Eligible improvements include energy efficiency upgrades, energy-saving equipment, and power generation improvements. A limited 203(k) mortgage allows homebuyers and homeowners to finance up to $35,000 in their mortgage to repair, improve, or upgrade their homes. In Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs), the amount is up to $50,000 per home, which is enough to make a range of significant, cost-effective energy improvements.
- HUD Home Ownership Centers offer year-round courses on FHA products, programs, and policies that include 203(k), energy-saving mortgages, weather programs, and solar and wind energy. These exercises are delivered live and can be recorded; One example is the 2022 Single Family Housing Lender Training – Credit Underwriting: Session Two (found here) conducted in June.
- The FHA is studying ways to make it easier for lenders and consumers to use the 203(k) mortgage program to make a range of home improvements, including those related to mitigating climate change and improving energy efficiency. When these changes are in place, FHA will implement a strong education and outreach plan to modernize consumers and lenders.
- FHA works with the appraisal community to develop strategies to ensure that single-family appraisers are familiar with methods for evaluating energy-related improvements and mitigating risks.
Contact an FHA approved lender for more information about the Section 203(k) Mortgage Rehabilitation Program or visit the HUD 203(k) Mortgage Insurance Program webpage.