May 11, 2023 Washington, DC — As wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards and other severe weather occurrences increase nationwide due to climate change, low-income older adults living in affordable housing are both disproportionately impacted and increasingly at risk.
Katie Smith Sloan, the head of one of the country’s leading nonprofit organizations, called news today from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on funding details for its Green and Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP) “a tremendous step forward toward ensuring that low-income older adults are safe and protected as threats from climate change escalate. Providers are eager to make much-needed property upgrades that will help to ensure existing housing stock is preserved and that buildings operate efficiently.”
The GRRP, established through the Inflation Reduction Act, provides money for direct loans and grants to fund projects that improve energy or water efficiency, enhance indoor air quality or sustainability, implement the use of zero-emission electricity generation, low-emission building materials or processes, energy storage, or building electrification strategies, or address climate resilience, of eligible HUD-assisted multifamily properties. Providers serving older adults under Multifamily Section 8 project-based rental assistance, Section 202 Supportive Housing for Low-Income Elderly, and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Low-Income Persons with Disabilities may apply.
“Over 800,000 older adult households could benefit from the projects supported by green and resilient retrofit initiatives,” Sloan added. “These are not insignificant concerns. The affordable communities eligible to apply for these new funds deserve the benefits of energy efficiency and climate resiliency, and so do today’s and future residents. These investments will save the public billions on utility bills and position these communities to thrive in the future.”
Housing policy experts at LeadingAge, whose mission-driven, nonprofit members serve older adults in a range of care settings and communities, including affordable housing, have been tracking development of the GRRP for years, prior to its inclusion in 2022 as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Elements of LeadingAge’s recommendations, submitted to HUD Oct. 27, 2022, are incorporated in the funding details disclosed today. For example, LeadingAge proposed that HUD issue separate buckets of GRRP funding, including simplified categories of small and mid-sized grants to HUD-assisted multifamily housing properties nationwide to implement basic energy retrofitting at scale, and a funding category for larger grants and loans to properties undergoing more comprehensive resilience retrofits, targeted to climate-vulnerable areas or properties serving overburdened populations.
HUD said today that funds will be distributed through three distinct national competitions (Elements, Leading Edge, Comprehensive) to ensure that providers of all sizes can access and expeditiously use HUD’s resources, which will, in turn, help to ensure the safety of older adult residents living in federally assisted communities.
“We’re pleased that many of our proposals are incorporated into HUD’s GRRP program announcement and will continue working with HUD and our affordable senior housing members to improve green and resilient efforts across the affordable housing portfolio,” said Linda Couch, Vice President, Housing and Aging Services Policy, LeadingAge.