New York PACE Program Helps Preserve Affordable Housing in Westchester County

In an effort to preserve Westchester Countys existing affordable housing, Energize NY and The Westchester Department of Planning introduced a new program on March 11, 2014 to help affordable housing and non-profit building owners to improve their buildings by making them more energy efficient and to add renewable energy.

The Energize NY Westchester Project will provide building owners a one-stop resource to collaborate with NYS energy reduction incentive programs, find reliable contractors, access innovative Energize NY PACE financing for energy improvements as well as the Countys new subsidy to help the commercial multifamily affordable housing sector preserve the Countys existing affordable units.

The county is very excited about this program, says Norma Drummond, Deputy Commissioner, Westchester Department of Planning. Westchester County has a long history of providing affordable housing. There were a lot of developments in the 60s, 70s and 80s that we are looking to preserve, and these buildings are ready for, and in need of, rehabilitation. That means that we need to improve not just kitchens and bathrooms but some of the basic infrastructure of these buildings, and this program can really help.

Using the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan structure, Energize NY Finance makes comprehensive energy retrofits and renewable energy improvements more economically feasible than ever before in New York State. PACE is a new and innovative way for commercial property owners to pay for energy efficiency upgrades and on-site renewable energy projects. PACE funding is provided or arranged by a local government for 100% of a projects costs, and is repaid with a line on the tax bill over a term of up to 20 years. PACE financing works for large and small projects on just about any commercial building, including multi-family. Housing costs have gone up, but incomes in Westchester have gone down now for the second year in a row, says Drummond. There are thousands of affordable rental units in Westchester that could really be helped by upgrading infrastructure like boilers and insulation, and reducing energy costs to keep them affordable to operate.

Westchester County is collaborating with Energize NY to offer $4 million in Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) capital exclusively to multifamily buildings with low-income tenants, and not-for-profit owned buildings at extremely low rates. Loans are only approved if the energy savings from a proposed project will save more over time than the money invested in the project, making property owners cash-flow positive on their projects. All projects must be approved by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

"NYSERDAs goal is to offer multifamily building owners and managers the tools and resources to cost-effectively improve energy performance and increase efficiency, especially among affordable-rate buildings. Energize NY financing is a crucial element of our new approach to scaling up the clean energy economy through innovative financing models, said James Mannarino, a project manager for NYSERDA. NYSERDA provides incentives for multifamily building improvements based on energy savings.

32 people attended the event, representing over 150 affordable housing buildings as well as a handful of non-profit owned buildings. Held at Port Chester Senior Center, the attendees included building owners, municipal leaders, property management companies, community advocacy organizations and NYSERDA Multifamily Performance Partners.

To get started on an energy efficiency project or renewable energy project for your building in NYS, visit Energize NY. To find out about PACE financing in other states visit PACENow's website.

About Energize NY Finance:

Energize NY, a PACE program operating in the state of New York, is administered by the Energy Improvement Corporation, which a not for profit local development corporation established to assist municipalities and property owners achieve long-term energy savings and/or generate renewable power for use on site. Energize NY Finance provides an alternative to traditional loans, by providing an innovative form of financing called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.

About PACENow:

PACENow is a non-profit foundation funded advocate for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACENows mission is to promote improved energy efficiency in buildings and use of PACE. Our strategy is to be a trusted source for information and resources to a growing coalition of PACE stakeholders that includes local governments, businesses, industry service providers, labor and trade organizations, environmental groups and private individuals nationwide.