Greening NYC’s Affordable Housing

June 10, 2016

New York City has made ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 and to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in ten years. Buildings account for roughly 70 percent of our emissions but affordable housing building owners and developers face a number of obstacles and policy challenges to making their buildings more sustainable.

In 2014-15, NYLCVEF conducted a civic engagement campaign in partnership with the Community League of the Heights (CLOTH), a local community development corporation (CDC) in Washington Heights. The campaign raised support for city funding to support the green preservation of affordable housing. In 2015, through continued conversation with CLOTH’s leadership and our other local partners, we identified a need for further education and engagement with various stakeholders on the issue. In partnership with Enterprise Community Partners and NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, we decided to convene a forum on the many issues related to CLOTH’s important work and affordable housing through New York City.

On February 3rd, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, Enterprise Community Partners and NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service co-hosted a policy forum on the Green Preservation of New York City’s Multi-Family Affordable Housing with generous support from Crauderueff and Associates.

Co-sponsored by NYU and Enterprise, and with generous support from Crauderueff and Associates, NYLCVEF hosted a policy forum entitled “Green Preservation of Multi-Family Affordable Housing” on February 3rd. In conversation with moderators Esther Toporovsky of Enterprise Community Partners and David Hepinstall of the Association for Energy Affordability, panelists from city and state agencies, utilities, and housing developers discussed the myriad barriers and opportunities for advancing green preservation of privately owned, publically supported buildings in NYC.

Each panel featured discussion of the complex and interrelated issues that must be considered when implementing sustainability retrofits for multi-family affordable housing, including education, financing, resiliency, and stakeholder collaboration. Panelists then took questions from the audience of students, issue experts, financial sector professionals, and community leaders.

The audience, as well as members of our second panel that primarily featured advocates and affordable housing developers, delivered a resounding consensus on the need for a “one-stop shop” for technical assistance and other retrofitting programs. Agency representatives discussed recent developments with New York City’s Retrofit Accelerator, designed for just such a purpose – and we believe that effective implementation of the Accelerator’s programs remains a key piece of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

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