The Biden administration released more than $800 million in funding today to help make low-income housing more efficient and resilient to climate change, the White House announced Thursday.
The money, included in last year’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act, comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the new Green Resilient Retrofit Program. Along with another $4 billion in loan funding, it will pay for owners of multifamily housing to install upgrades like heat pumps or solar panels, in an effort to reduce heating and cooling costs. It will likely affect tens of thousands of households.
Significance: “Implementing the GRRP will provide much-needed funding to reduce water and utility costs and keep the homes of the nation’s low-income individuals and families safe in the face of climate change,” Assistant Secretary for Housing Julia Gordon said last year when the GRRP was first announced.
The White House said the program is the largest HUD initiative yet to directly invest in energy efficiency and climate resilience in HUD-assisted multifamily housing. Along with lowering utility bills for low-income renters, the money will help fortify homes that often are more heavily impacted by climate-related natural disasters like hurricanes than those in wealthier areas. “GRRP also provides a means of addressing issues of housing equity and environmental justice and reducing these properties’ climate impact,” Gordon said.
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Context: The Biden Administration has made climate justice a central part of its approach to emissions reductions and energy efficiency improvements. Along with a number of other moves, the Justice40 Initiative, which was launched through executive order, aims to provide 40 percent of government benefits from climate and energy spending to disadvantaged communities.
Up Next: The continued rollout of IRA spending comes amid an ongoing fight in Congress over the debt limit; as part of that battle, Republicans have proposed repealing large chunks of the IRA, including incentives aimed at placing solar and wind power in poorer communities. A bill that passed the House of Representatives with those repeals likely cannot pass in the Senate, and President Biden has threatened a veto anyway.
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