NYC Greening Foreclosed Homes

And Who Will Now Live in Them?

green_houseNew York City is greening homes that have been foreclosed on. GlobeSt.com reports on the new initiative by the City to weatherize and update homes in neighborhoods that have been hit badly by the subprime mortgage bust. I’m a bit confused though. Less Americans are moving right now than they have in decades. Greening these homes is great. But might some ask if it would have been better to use this stimulus funding to keep people in their homes first?    

From GlobeSt:

Thursday, April 09, 2009– The Bloomberg administration is launching a pilot program to retrofit foreclosed one to four-family homes to green standards. The announcement was made Friday by Sean Donovan, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, at a conference sponsored by the US Green Building Council’s New York chapter.

Initially, five homes will be retrofitted in a partnership between the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development–where Donovan was commissioner before being tapped by the Obama administration–Restored Homes Housing Development Fund Corp. and Enterprise Community Partners. An HPD spokesman did not respond by deadline to GlobeSt.com’s inquiries regarding the locations of the properties, the cost of the pilot program or the number of foreclosed homes that could eventually be retrofitted to green standards.

The green pilot program is an offshoot of the Real Estate Owned Program that HPD and Restored Homes created, and which itself a component of the Bloomberg administration’s $7.5-billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to create and preserve affordable housing for 500,000 New Yorkers. HPD’s REO program uses a $24-million HUD grant awarded in January, and will acquire, rehabilitate and sell bank-foreclosed one to four-family homes in New York City to qualified low and moderate-income families, according to a release.

Enterprise’s Green Communities initiative is the basis for the HPD/Restored Homes pilot program. This initiative, according to a release, is intended to create safe and healthy living environments. It goes about achieving this goal by using “non-toxic construction materials, [reducing] the amount of construction debris going into landfills by employing highly efficient waste management and recycling techniques for construction and demolition waste, and significantly increase the energy efficiency of homes, which will, in turn, reduce energy and maintenance costs, thereby making homeownership more financially sustainable for homeowners,” the release states.

Donovan announced the pilot program as part of the keynote address at USGBC-NY’s “Green and Affordable: Sustainable Strategies for the New Housing Marketplace” conference on strategies for expanding the nation’s stock of green and affordable housing. “New York City and its partners have shown real leadership and innovation in developing green and affordable homes for low and moderate-income families,” Donovan said in prepared remarks. He added that the green retrofit program “will provide affordable, energy-efficient homes while also strengthening neighborhoods hit by foreclosures. HUD is competitively awarding another $2 billion in neighborhood stabilization funds through the Recovery Act and we hope that sustainable homes will be a feature of that investment in many neighborhoods across the country.”

The conference brought together more than 200 housing professionals representing government, development, finance, nonprofits and academia, according to a release. Individual panels focused on strategies for financing projects, techniques to promote healthy indoor environments, green maintenance practices and the role of city government in green affordable building. The conference was held at the Durst Organization’s soon-to-open Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. The building was designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

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