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Rental Housing Preservation and "Green" Housing*

Through preservation initiatives, communities can simultaneously accomplish the dual goals of preserving existing affordable rental homes and promoting energy efficiency and conservation of scarce natural resources. Preservation achieves its "green" status in several ways:

1. Strategic location in transit-friendly communities -According to the National Housing Trust, 250,000 subsidized rental units can be found within one-half mile of public transit, not to mention thousands more unassisted units. These homes provide ready access to affordable transportation and the option to forgo car ownership, or at least reduce reliance on a personal vehicle, allowing residents to dramatically reduce both their energy consumption and the combined cost of housing and transportation.

Affordable housing near transit is also crucial for many older adults who cannot or choose not to drive. Easy access to reliable public transportation enables these households to retain their mobility and travel independently to visit with family and friends and access services.

From the Forum

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included significant funding for the State Energy Program and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. Does anyone know of states/localities proposing to use a portion of these funds to support energy retrofits of affordable multifamily housing?"

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The Forum is a place to pose questions, exchange ideas, and learn from the experience and expertise of others. This section of the site features interactive forums organized around policy areas, including rental housing preservation.
Learn more about the importance of affordable rental homes near
transit for older adults by listening to a Live at the Forum recording featuring the authors of a report from the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the National Housing Trust and Reconnecting America, Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities near Transit and the 50+ Population.

As gas prices remain high and demand for transit continues to grow, these affordable units will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.

2. Conservation of energy and building materials - Energy efficient rehab of older rental homes provides an opportunity for communities to recapitalize the existing affordable housing stock while using less energy and raw materials and generating less waste than new construction.

3. Preservation of open space - In metropolitan areas that continue to experience population growth, the preservation of existing homes helps communities meet their housing needs without expanding into previously undeveloped areas. In general, existing homes are already served by roads and utilities, and so do not require the extension of infrastructure into new areas.

Window of Opportunity

Through the Window of Opportunity initiative, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will support "green" investments in preservation in Denver, Colorado; Pennsylvania; and Vermont:

1. Denver, Colorado - The Denver metropolitan area is undergoing the largest expansion in the nation of its public transit system. With support from the MacArthur Foundation, the City and County of Denver will establish a new loan fund for transit-oriented development that preserves affordable rental housing near existing and planned regional public transit stations. Click here to learn more.

2. Pennsylvania- Assistance from the MacArthur Foundation will enable Pennsylvania to conduct comprehensive energy audits to determine the most appropriate and cost-effective energy efficiency improvements in rental homes. The resulting rehab efforts are expected to help mitigate the effects of a projected 40 to 60 percent increase in utility expenses resulting from deregulation of the state's electricity industry. Click here to learn more.

3. Vermont- As the price of heating oil increases, the costs to operate affordable rental housing in Vermont are also escalating. The MacArthur Foundation will support several initiatives to lessen the rental burden on lower-income households, including improvements that encourage energy conservation and the use of Medicare and Medicaid to assist in housing for older households. Click here to learn more.

Learn more about the Window of Opportunity initiative.

In 2010, the National Housing Conference hosted the Partners in Innovation preservation forums, a series of three regional forums focused on strengthening and supporting affordable rental housing preservation efforts through innovative partnerships, policy development, and legislative reform. The regional forums took place in Boston, MA; Portland, OR; and Denver, CO in 2010.

Access presentations on green rental housing preservation from following breakout session at the Partners in Innovation: Including Affordable and Workforce Housing within Transit-Oriented Development in Denver on September 28, 2010.

* This page draws from the National Housing Trust's Preserving Affordable Housing is Green Fact Sheet. Click here to leave this site and learn more about why preservation is green.