IRA Bootcamp-no title
August 07, 2023

NHT Update: Report from the Frontlines -- Lessons Learned (So Far) Through IRA Bootcamps

We’re halfway through our 8-month long IRA Bootcamp dual sessions – with one track for affordable housing owners/developers, and one for housing finance agencies (HFAs) – and want to share some of what we have learned along the way. Our goal when we launched these Bootcamps in May was to equip participants to better understand how to most effectively leverage the complex and comprehensive resources available in the Inflation Reduction Act so that we can direct as many dollars into affordable housing as possible. We know that climate disproportionately impacts low-income people, communities of color, and renters -- all of whom are served by affordable housing. These funds can help reduce the cost of utilities, make homes healthier, keep the power on during disasters, and help ensure that affordable housing units withstand the changes brought on by climate change.

In April 2023, we invited interested parties to apply. As a result, we have 36 housing finance agencies participating who want to learn how they can best support their owners to access these funds and leverage critical housing finance tools that they administer, like Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). We also have 50 owners/developers of affordable housing properties across at least 19 states who have come together to better understand how to bring sustainability and resilience investments to their portfolios. Through the program, each is receiving customized technical assistance to help them prioritize investment opportunities so that they can apply for IRA funds.

We’ve completed four sessions in each track each so far, and here are some major takeaways for us all:

  • Housing finance agencies are committed to ensuring that they can serve as a resource to other state agencies – like state energy offices – tasked to design and implement IRA programs to ensure they benefit affordable housing owners and residents.
  • Owners are very interested to understand how new incentives – like rebates, and ‘adders’ to the investment tax credit – can make these investments feasible without negatively impacting their capital stack, particularly given that their funding approach often includes public resources with restrictions to prevent ‘double-dipping’.
  • Both owners and agencies value learning from each other about innovative approaches and solutions.
    • Just last week, one HFA shared how they require owners to identify energy rebates that they intend to tap at the time of project application for housing tax credits, while another explained how they’ve deepened their relationship with state energy office counterparts to the degree that they have been delegated the authority to administer energy-efficiency funding for affordable housing projects directly.
    • In June, partner organization SAHF shared learnings from their members’ prior efforts to reduce energy intensity. The takeaway: the work is complex but gets easier, and there is no single solution or silver bullet.
  • In addition to existing federal resources which aim to summarize program information, owners and HFAs alike both seek more clear, brief, and shareable information about IRA programs. Particularly as new program specifics are released by agencies, translating complex guidelines into quick-reference, easy-to-understand formats will help end-users better understand how these programs might work for them.

We’ve made an effort to respond to these learnings in real-time.

  • We offered the chance to HFAs to have some more, unstructured time to discuss their challenges and solutions, and were glad to have 12 agencies join us on an (optional) cohort-learning call recently, where participants discussed how to best structure these new resources so that developers are properly incentivized to access them.
  • ·We’re soon to launch an IRA Bootcamp Tool Kit with the resources we’ve collected so far and new, easy-to-digest material that is made for sharing to help participants continue to get the word out about IRA programs and resources to affordable housing practitioners.
  • We’re using readily-available tools – like HUD’s MBEST tool – to equip owners with the information they need to prioritize possible investments.

We’re grateful to our partners along the way, who have contributed their experience and insight, including SAHF, New Ecology, HUD, DOE, NASEO, and NCSHA – as well as many participants. We are particularly grateful to the funder of this work, Wells Fargo Foundation.

All of our sessions have been recorded and posted for public use. We hope that you and all of our IRA Bootcamp participants find them helpful in achieving our shared goal of driving climate-related investments into multifamily affordable housing.

Danielle Arigoni
Danielle Arigoni

Managing Director for Policy and Solutions