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June 2008 - Green Affordable Housing

Photo courtesy of Community Housing Partners

In the Toolbox

Over the next several months, In Focus will highlight a series of six state and local housing strategies that can help preserve and expand the availability of housing that is both energy-efficient and affordable. These newsletters will be complemented by expanded content on - your guide to state and local housing policy. This is part one of the series.

This month we take an in-depth look at green building - a set of construction and design techniques focused on increasing energy efficiency, providing a healthy living environment, and achieving long-term cost savings. Green building strategies can contribute significantly to the preservation, construction and rehabilitation of high-quality affordable homes for America's working families.

Learn more about green affordable housing

"Out Loud" Podcast's monthly Out Loud podcast series focuses on noteworthy housing policy solutions being implemented at the state and local levels. In this month's podcast we hear from two of the nation's leading experts on green building.

Special guest Dana Bourland, senior program director for the Green Communities Initiative at Enterprise Community Partners, highlights how Enterprise's Green Communities Criteria provide affordable housing developers with proven, cost-effective standards for creating healthy and energy-efficient homes. Also in this episode, Paul Freitag, development studio director for Jonathan Rose Companies, discusses David and Joyce Dinkins Gardens, Harlem's first green building for low-income families, and the many ways that the development benefits its residents, the community and the environment.

Listen to the podcast

Solutions in Action

North Carolina's SystemVision program, a partnership between the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) and Advanced Energy, a non-profit research organization founded by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, provides incentives and technical assistance to encourage the construction of Energy Star-compliant homes affordable to families earning less than 80 percent of the area median income. Participating non-profit developers and local governments that build homes according to program standards are eligible to receive up to $4,000 from NCHFA to cover the cost of physical upgrades or reduce the sale price of each home developed.

Homes built to SystemVision standards are also backed by a two-year guarantee that monthly utility bills will not exceed a set cost, typically $30 a month. If the cost exceeds the set amount, Advanced Energy reimburses the remainder of the bill, ensuring the energy cost savings are passed on to the homeowner. The SystemVision program illustrates the realistic possibility of combining affordability and energy-efficiency.

Read more about this solution

What's Your Story?

The July issue of In Focus, the second in this special series, will focus on shared equity homeownership, an innovative tool that preserves the value of public homeownership subsidies and keeps homes affordable for the long run. Among other applications, shared equity homeownership can be used to preserve the affordability of homes located near public transit stops and job centers and in walkable communities, reducing household energy costs. Do you know of any examples of community land trusts or resale restrictions being used to preserve the affordability of homes in such energy-efficient locations?

Share your story!


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The Center for Community Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley is accepting nominations for The I. Donald Turner Prize for Innovation and Leadership in Affordable Housing. The prize is awarded biennially to the affordable housing project and leadership team that best exemplifies the spirit of Turner's work, commitment to affordable housing practice and principles.

One winner will be selected by a jury of professionals from the fields of planning, architecture, development, finance, government and media to receive the first prize award of $25,000, and five finalist teams will be awarded leadership stipends of $5,000. Nominations are being accepted through August.

Click here for more details

Featured Gallery Entry:

David and Joyce Dinkins Gardens, New York, NY

Photo credit: Ruggero Vanni courtesy of Jonathan Rose Companies LLC


May 2008 -- In Focus: Foreclosure Prevention
April 2008 -- In Focus: Employer-Assisted Housing
February 2008
-- was launched in January 2008 as part of Housing Solutions Week. Click here to view materials from the week.