The Multifamily Affordable Housing Collaborative convenes and supports multifamily affordable housing providers to identify replicable models for community solar deployment that reduce monthly electric utility bills or provide other direct benefits for low-income residents of multifamily housing. Technical webinars and peer networking focus on challenges with ownership and financing, program models for various property types, tenant benefits, and technology integration. The collaborative will ultimately produce a toolkit that will allow multifamily affordable housing providers to screen their portfolio of properties and identify suitable locations for community solar.

In America, low-income households (earning 80% or less of the area median income) reside in approximately 60% of multifamily housing units. These units vary greatly in terms of ownership and financing structures (including different types of federally subsidized housing, as well as naturally occurring, non-subsidized housing) and building type (mastered or individually metered). This diversity in multifamily affordable housing (MFAH) can impact the costs and energy burden (energy cost as a proportion of income) that residents face and ultimately, the benefits they receive from on-site and off-site solar installations.

There are a variety of barriers to deploying solar on multifamily affordable housing that make it challenging to carry out projects and pass benefits to low-income residents. The collaborative will address a variety of barriers that MFAH face when deploying community solar for their customers including:

  • Financing: Limited operating reserves of MFAH buildings make it difficult to finance solar projects outside of already scheduled operation and maintenance investments.
  • Split Incentives: Tenants may be responsible for paying electricity and other utility bills directly, and therefore MFAH entities or building owners may lack the incentive to pursue capital-intensive upgrades.
  • Tenant Benefits: MFAH entities may experience challenges with communicating with and delivering direct and indirect benefits to MFAH tenants from solar initiatives.
  • Capacity of MFAH Building Owners: many affordable housing providers may not have internal expertise on solar project development or lack the time and resources to devote to exploring and implementing solar projects.

For each of the projects undertaken through the MFAH Collaborative, there is a goal of demonstrating replicable models for solar energy deployment that reduce monthly electric utility bills or provide other direct benefits for low-income residents of multifamily housing. Through DOE partnership and peer learning, the NCSP’s MFAH Collaborative will concentrate on the following objectives:

  • Ownership and Financing: Demonstrate promising strategies that overcome barriers to community solar in MFAH for a variety of ownership and financing structures, and building types, including either master-metered or multi-metered buildings.
  • Various MFAH Types: Provide tools and document replicable models (program action plans, project implementation models, etc.) to assist housing providers with incorporating solar into a variety of MFAH types.
  • Tenant Benefits: Develop best practices for effective resident engagement in program development and for providing benefits directly and indirectly to residents from MFAH solar projects.
  • Technology Integration: Feature successful approaches for integrating complementary technologies (e.g. energy efficiency and storage) with solar to enhance project value and resident benefits.

Learn more about NCSP’s Collaboratives and register to join the partnership.