Race Against Time: Seizing an Unprecedented Opportunity for Affordable Housing

Affordable housing funds are still available through the federal government's inflation reduction act but time is running out

Ryan Kristoff

Based on what we’ve seen in 2023, it appears that the multifamily affordable housing (MFAH) market will end up accessing a relatively meager portion of the funds from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). These laws make available an unprecedented volume of free money for weatherization, beneficial electrification, solar, and health and safety solutions. However, many MFAH stakeholders are simply unaware of the legislation or its applicability to them. Beyond that, many state agencies in charge of administering the funds are concerned about spending their allocations in a timely manner and so are sticking to “business as usual” residential markets, i.e., single-family housing.

There is still time to get on the train, but the MFAH community needs to act fast. In 2024, many funds will move from the federal government into states’ coffers, subsequently hitting communities at different times throughout the year. Some states, like Tennessee, are dedicating significant portions of their new funds to increase energy efficiency and clean energy services in MFAH, and they can potentially be a reference for others. But many of the IRA’s funding buckets, which have confronted political opposition since they were in draft form, still regularly come under fire. We’re less than a year out from election season, the results of which could signal a dramatic reduction of the available funds. Running parallel to the political uncertainty is mounting pressure from markets, regulatory bodies, and the environment.

Unfortunately, there is a very real possibility that these resources could disappear almost as quickly as they arrived. Our hope is that one of the big stories in 2024 will be a groundswell of MFAH properties applying for funds and advocating with states for greater investment in this segment.

About the author:

Ryan Kristoff is the Director of Grants at ICAST, a national nonprofit that designs holistic retrofit solutions for MFAH. He works with local government, utility, state, and federal partners to create and launch MFAH-focused clean energy programs.

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