Hazel Hill Apartments
April 03, 2024

Learning Together: Insights Gained From IRA Bootcamps

Since May 2023, with generous support from the Wells Fargo Foundation, NHT has led a capacity-building program that positions affordable housing owners and state housing finance agencies to best use Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) resources. IRA resources represent a critical opportunity to deliver more energy-efficient, resilient housing that lowers carbon emissions – but barriers to implementation exist. NHT’s two-track IRA Bootcamp served 50 small and medium-sized affordable housing developers and owners and 36 state Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) by providing information, direct support, and cohort learning to overcome the barriers both housing providers and agencies expressed. We’re pleased to be able to share some highlights from this work to date and reorient you to the continuously growing slate of tools we offer to support IRA implementation.

IRA Bootcamp Participants

Building the capacity of the affordable housing industry is critical to ensure that the benefits of IRA don’t bypass multifamily affordable housing. Climate change disproportionately impacts low-income and disadvantaged communities, many of whom depend on affordable housing. Making affordable housing efficient, resilient, and safe mitigates climate-related risks. 

However, the complex nature of affordable housing finance – in addition to high construction costs, scarce funding opportunities, and limited capacity among developers – all represent significant challenges to decarbonizing and enhancing the efficiency of properties. The IRA presents a unique opportunity by providing upwards of $25 billion to invest in low-income and disadvantaged communities by preserving affordable housing, reducing energy costs, and increasing community resiliency. 

However, various federal and state agencies are allocating IRA funds, resulting in complex program timelines, guidance, and resources. NHT designed the Bootcamp program to ensure stakeholders understood the latest guidance and what these opportunities mean for their state, portfolio, and residents. We explicitly designed the IRA Bootcamp to: 

  • Help housing providers and agencies understand the mechanics of leveraging different types of IRA resources in project financing, particularly related to (but not limited to) allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits;
  • Aid housing providers in assessing their portfolio to identify opportunities for IRA resources to fund decarbonization, energy efficiency, and climate resilience; 
  • Support HFAs to identify opportunities to administer IRA funding directly or collaborate with sister agencies to inform their IRA-funded programs; and
  • Foster learning amongst state agencies and developers.

Bootcamp participants gained critical insights about IRA programs through 18 webinars (from May to December), one in-person gathering, regular newsletter communications, a new IRA Bootcamp Toolkit, and customized 1:1 technical assistance from New Ecology. The Bootcamps introduced participants to various programs, including the Green and Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP), Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), Home Energy Rebates, and the enhanced Clean Energy Tax Credits. The Bootcamp sessions also focused on the fundamentals of electrification, decarbonization, and energy efficiency; how to benchmark and collect utility data at properties; how to braid IRA funding into HFA programs; how to identify and pursue opportunities for solar and other resiliency enhancements; and the importance of engaging and centering residents throughout this work. 

While more capacity-building work is needed, our first phase of Bootcamp webinars wrapped in December 2023. We surveyed participants then to gauge our success and glean insights for ongoing work. Here are the key takeaways so far from survey respondents:

  • 100% of HFAs are likely to turn to fellow state agency counterparts (including State Energy Offices, who administer the DOE rebates) to collaborate on IRA opportunities.
  • Developers indicated having a significantly more advanced understanding of key energy efficiency and decarbonization measures after participating in the Bootcamp.
  • Developers are significantly more prepared to apply for IRA programs after participating in the Bootcamp:
    • Green and Resilient Retrofit Program preparedness increased from 43% to 77%
    • Low-income Bonus Tax Credit preparedness increased from 38% to 70%
    • Home Energy Rebates preparedness increased from 38% to 62%
  • Developers’ recognition of the value of integrating residents into this work increased from 52% to 77%.
  • Participants’ recognition of the value of making sustainable and resilient investments in affordable housing increased from 67% to 83% among HFAs.
  • On average, developers’ level of preparedness to take action on the various IRA programs doubled after participating in the Bootcamp.

More work is needed, particularly as agencies launch IRA programs and state-level programs begin to come online. We are particularly focused on ensuring that the affordable housing industry is well-positioned to leverage the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund’s National Clean Investment Fund and Clean Communities Investment Accelerator resources and the Solar for All awards to states. State Energy Offices are also working diligently to finalize their DOE Home Energy Rebate programs, with some states expected to launch their Home Efficiency Rebates and Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates as soon as this fall. NHT is closely following these opportunities and has developed state tracking resources so you can stay current on your state’s Home Energy Rebates and Solar for All programs. 

In addition, one of the most significant limitations expressed by state agencies and housing providers is the capacity constraints across their organizations and the need to train and equip new staff to take on this work. This includes support to identify state and federal programs that can braid into IRA funding, creating space for continued peer learning, and helping developers who are beginning to decarbonize their portfolios identify properties best suited for and most in need of these retrofits. NHT’s archived webinars, tools, and forthcoming resources aim to address this challenge. Resources and tools are available to all on our Bootcamp homepage, which is continuously updated. 

To ensure you receive the latest information on the Inflation Reduction Act, sign up for our IRA Newsletter here!

Madeleine McCullough
Madeleine McCullough

Program Coordinator and Analyst