Introducing The Housing Voucher and Energy Efficiency Program (VEEP)
Affordable housing continues to be a critical issue in Charlottesville, so C3 and the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) teamed up to develop The Housing Voucher and Energy Efficiency Program (VEEP). This pilot program offers financial incentives to landlords who accept housing vouchers to make energy efficient upgrades to their rental properties, in turn, creating more rental options for families with housing vouchers and lowering their energy costs.
When it comes to climate change, there are numerous opportunities to develop creative, common-sense solutions that address community needs across the board. With a close look at existing policies and programs, these solutions emerge as win-wins for everyone. VEEP was developed in the spirit of common-sense solutions when we began looking at community housing needs and the City’s housing voucher programs.
Two Community Needs, One Smart Solution
Ensuring an equitable transition to clean energy and a sustainable future means having to address the needs of all members of our community. That’s why C3 convened a group of social justice and environmental non-profits earlier this year where we learned about some of the difficulties that families face when trying to utilize housing assistance programs.
While some low-income residents receive assistance through housing placement, many other residents with low-incomes are added to the waitlist to receive housing vouchers. Residents with housing vouchers often experience difficulty finding a rental property that accepts this housing incentive, and therefore seek options in surrounding areas or return the voucher, unused.
Furthermore, low-income residents spend a significant portion of their income on energy costs and have little control over making energy-efficiency improvements when renting housing units. As extreme weather conditions become more frequent and intense, low-income residents will continue to be subject to increasing energy burdens.
So we thought, why not tackle both issues with one smart solution. By working with the LEAP and Charlottesville’s Housing Advisory Committee (HAC), we developed a pilot program to expand the pool of landlords who accept housing vouchers, reduce energy costs for low-income residents living in those properties, and build energy efficiency into the affordable housing stock of Charlottesville.
How VEEP Works
The concept for bringing these solutions into rental properties is simple. Landlords receive funding (up to $10,000) to make energy efficiency improvements to their property in the form of a forgivable loan.
A forgivable loan?!
Yes, the loan is forgivable. And here’s how.
When landlords sign up for VEEP, they agree to accept housing vouchers for five years, expanding housing options for community members with vouchers within City limits. Each year the property has a renter with a housing voucher, the loan is forgiven for ⅕ the total amount borrowed. After five years, the loan is completely forgiven! By keeping renters in the City, emissions from daily commutes will be cut, fuel costs for families will decrease, and the homes that families rent will be more energy efficient, keeping energy costs down.
Can we say, win-win-win!?
Calling All Cville Landlords!
To kick start participation in this program, C3 and LEAP are hosting a Lunch-n-Learn event on September 13th (11:30-12:30) at City Space in Downtown Charlottesville to inform landlords about the program’s ins-and-outs.
Help us spread the word about this awesome option for supporting the needs of our community! If you or someone you know owns rental property in Charlottesville, invite them to join us on September 13th for the VEEP Lunch-n-Learn. We’re looking for ten properties to launch this pilot program and are hoping to start projects later this fall.
More information about VEEP can be found at leap-va.org/veep