The Low-Income Weatherization Program for Multifamily Brings Energy Efficiency and Solar to Rural Communities

Self-Help Enterprises invests in the well-being of rural communities and farmworker families throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Based in Visalia, CA, Self-Help Enterprises used the Low-Income Weatherization Program for Multifamily Properties (LIWP-Multifamily) to improve 5 of its 28 multifamily affordable rental properties. Betsy McGovernGarcia, Self-Help’s Real Estate Development Director, says, “LIWP Multifamily’s extensive technical assistance, incentive structure, and solar PV helped us increase energy savings, improve property cash flows, and create renter financial and health benefits above and beyond what we planned to do before leveraging this versatile program.” Three properties will be close to Zero Net Energy. All five properties have energy efficiency and solar PV improvements for resident units and common areas like hallways and community rooms.

This “portfolio approach” reached 304 low-income households. Compared to traditional energy programs, LIWP-Multifamily was more accessible to rural communities because of the extensive technical assistance and thorough site visits. Duplex and fourplex buildings are common in rural communities. These types of buildings tend to have more roof space per unit, which creates an opportunity to install larger solar systems that can lower both owner and renter energy use. LIWP-Multifamily’s incentive structure is helping to improve the financial feasibility of such systems through economies of scale. More than 60 percent of total PV installed costs are covered by LIWP-Multifamily. One hundred percent of tenant solar system installed costs are covered.